U.N. Issues Global Alert Over SARS-Like Virus

The World Health Organization announced Sunday that a new virus belonging to the same family as the SARS virus has been identified in a Qatari man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia. SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, first surfaced in China in 2002 and killed up to 800 people. In a statement through its "global alert and response" system, the WHO said tests on the 49-year-old man confirmed the presence of a new coronavirus. "Given that this is a novel coronavirus, WHO is currently in the process of obtaining further information to determine the public health implications," the statement said. Peter Openshaw, director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, said the novel virus looked unlikely to prove a concern, and it may only have been identified due to sophisticated testing techniques. "For now, I would be watchful but not immediately concerned," he told Reuters. The WHO said it was not recommending any travel restrictions but would be seeking further information on the virus.

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