RIYADH: The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday that it has been notified of another infection with the novel coronavirus (NCoV), taking the total number of cases to 15 so far since the virus came to light last fall.
The case was discovered in Saudi Arabia, which has reported the most cases of any country to date.
A 39-year-old Saudi man infected with NCoV died on March 2, several days after being hospitalized, becoming the ninth patient in the world to have died from infections with this virus, which causes severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties, the WHO said.
Saudi officials report that the man had no known contact with earlier cases.
The WHO first issued an international alert in September after the virus infected a Qatari man in Britain who had recently been in Saudi Arabia.
“Preliminary investigation indicated that the (latest Saudi) patient had no contact with previously reported cases of NCoV infection,” the Geneva-based WHO said. “Other potential exposures are under investigation.”
While the virus is believed to have originated in bats, it is not currently known how people are becoming infected.
Nine of the 15 people confirmed to have been infected with NCoV have died. Most cases have been in the Middle East or in patients who had recently traveled there.
“WHO is currently working with international experts and countries where cases have been reported to assess the situation and review recommendations for surveillance and monitoring,” it said, adding that national authorities should “promptly assess and notify” it of any new NCoV cases.