WHO confirms another novel coronavirus death

Mar 6, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – Saudi Arabia's health ministry has reported another fatal novel coronavirus (NCoV) infection, the country's second such case in as many weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

The patient was a 69-year-old man who was hospitalized on Feb 10 and died on Feb 19. Early investigation of his case found that he had no contact with any of the earlier cases and had not traveled recently. His illness raises the global number of infections from the new virus to 14, including 8 deaths.

Of the global total so far, seven illnesses and five deaths have been reported from Saudi Arabia.

The WHO statement didn't include any other details about the patient, and its previous report on the Saudi Arabian NCoV case reported about 2 weeks ago also included very little clinical information, other than when the patient was hospitalized and died. Media reports from Saudi Arabia said that patient was an "old woman" but did not list her age.

Saudi Arabia's latest NCoV case is the fifth reported so far this year. Three of the patients were part of a family cluster in the United Kingdom, providing additional evidence of person-to-person spread. The first patient sickened in that cluster was a man who had traveled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before he became ill.

In its statement today, the WHO encouraged all member states to continue surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections and to look for any unusual patterns. The agency said it is working with experts and countries in which cases have been reported to assess the developments and review surveillance and monitoring recommendations.

The new virus, which is most closely related to coronaviruses in bats, was first reported in September in a Saudi man.

Pneumonia has been the most common clinical presentation in NCoV patients, and some have had severe complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome and renal failure. The infections, however, appeared to be milder in some patients, such as the most recent UK case-patient, a woman who had only a mild respiratory illness and recovered.

The wide illness spectrum has left health officials wondering if current surveillance for NCoV is missing mild or asymptomatic infections and if new strategies are needed.

See also:

Mar 6 WHO statement

Feb 21 CIDRAP News story "WHO confirmed 13th novel coronavirus case"

WHO background on NCoV clinical management

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