Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which are known to cause illness in humans and animals. As of 28 September 2012, scientists confirmed two cases of a never-seen-before strain of the virus, a 60-year-old Saudi Arabian man who died in June 2012, and a Qatari man, 49, with travel history to Saudi Arabia. Their symptoms included acute, serious respiratory illness presented with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. The novel coronavirus is genetically quite distinct from SARS. There has been no evidence to date that the novel coronavirus has been transmitted from person to person.
Hong Kong on alert as France confirms more cases of Sars-like virus
Hong Kong's Centre of Health Protection yesterday told doctors to be extra vigilant for suspected symptoms of a new Sars-like coronavirus, as new cases in France took the confirmed number of cases globally to 34.
Paris' Health Ministry said the second diagnosis of the coronavirus appeared to be a possible case of human-to-human transmission, because the new infection was found in a 50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room with France's only other known sufferer. Most other cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia.
"There are some patients who did not develop typical respiratory symptoms, they had only had diarrhoea at the early stages," said Dr Leung Ting-hung, controller of the Centre for Health Protection.
An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome a decade ago prompted officials to overhaul hospital and immigration procedures. There are 1,400 isolation beds in Hong Kong.