Mysterious Virus Spreads to a Second U.K. Patient


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The U.K.'s Health Protection Agency (HPA) this week confirmed that a patient receiving intensive care treatment at a Manchester hospital has been diagnosed with a new type of coronavirus.

The patient, who had recently travelled to the Middle East and Pakistan, is the second confirmed U.K. resident to be diagnosed with the virus. Worldwide, 10 confirmed cases of the virus have been diagnosed. The new virus has been found in patients with acute respiratory illnesses who had coughing, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, and a fever.

"The HPA is providing advice to healthcare workers to ensure the patient under investigation is being treated appropriately and that healthcare staff who are looking after the patient are protected," said John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPS. "Contacts of the case are also being followed up to check on their health."

Coronaviruses generally infect the upper respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract. Though they have been linked to the common cold, they are also cause of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The first case of the new coronavirus was diagnosed in the U.K. in September 2012. That patient died from a severe respiratory infection.

Since that time, the HPA has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) to watch for illnesses caused by the new virus. Doctors in the U.K. have also been provided with updated guidance on the investigation and management of possible cases of the new coronavirus.

“Our assessment is that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travelers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low," said Watson. "No travel restrictions are in place but people who develop severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within ten days of returning from these countries should seek medical advice and mention which countries they have visited."

(Image courtesy HPA)