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Calm urged over Sars-like virus

16 May 2013 09:39

Novel coronavirus can be passed from human to human (AP)

Novel coronavirus can be passed from human to human (AP)

A new infectious disease which has killed 18 people worldwide can be transmitted from human to human but experts in the UK are urging people not to panic.

Novel coronavirus, which has been linked to the Middle East, has been compared to Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and has claimed the lives of two people in the UK. The World Health Organisation announced the virus can be passed between humans after a French man who had shared a hospital room with an infected patient then also developed the illness.

Health experts have downplayed the effectiveness of the virus in spreading itself but have warned people to be vigilant against severe, unexplained respiratory illness, particularly if they are in the Middle East or recently visited the region. Emergency assistance via medical travel insurance can be valuable for travellers in this situation.

Professor Peter Openshaw, director of the centre for respiratory infection at Imperial College London, said: "We are right to be concerned about the reporting of transmission from person to person, but there is absolutely no reason to panic. Human-to-human transmission has now been documented but this is not a great surprise and the virus seems relatively hard to transmit. The 'super-spreading' events, in which one person infects several dozen people at a time (as was seen with Sars coronavirus), do not seem to be happening with this coronavirus."