The World Health Organization said Monday it has identified a new virus belonging to the deadly SARS family, which killed more than 800 people in 2002.
The WHO’s Global Alert and Response Team said it has discovered the new coronavirus, a large family of viruses which includes SARS and the common cold, after testing a 49-year-old Qatari man who had been flown by air ambulance to a London hospital.
The 49-year-old man became ill after traveling to Saudi Arabia where another man died of a similar illness earlier this year, the WHO confirmed.
In 2002, a SARS outbreak killed around 800 people, mostly in Asia, before being brought under control.
The WHO has not yet recommended any travel restrictions.
The man in the new case was sickened by a coronavirus with similar traits to the SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, virus.
He was transfered from Qatar to Britain on Sept. 11 and is being treated in an intensive care unit at a London hospital for problems including kidney failure. The UN health agency said virus samples from the patient are almost identical to those of a 60-year-old Saudi national who died earlier this year.
"You don't die from the common cold. This gives us reason to think it might be more like Sars," Michael Osterholm, a flu expert at the University of Minnesota said, according to the Associated Press.