Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which include the common cold and Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome). They cause respiratory infections in humans and animals, with four or five strains currently affecting humans. They are a species in the genera of virus belonging to the subfamily Coronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae. 

Arabian camel may host deadly Mers virus

Researchers found Mers-like antibodies in camels.Photo: AP

The exact origin of the virus is a riddle scientists have been working hard to solve to halt its spread, especially in the lead-up to the annual haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in October.

Saturday, 10 August, 2013, 2:06am

WHO won't block haj visits to Saudi Arabia over Mers

Keiji Fukuda of the WHO.

The World Health Organisation says the Mers virus striking Saudi Arabia is not a "public health emergency of international concern", and is not seeking travel restrictions as the kingdom braces for the Muslim haj pilgrimage.

19 Jul 2013 - 2:58am

Scientists say no risk of pandemic yet from MERS virus

Saudi nurses and citizens walk outside the King Fahad hospital in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia. Photo: AFP

The new MERS coronavirus that has claimed dozens of lives in the Middle East does not yet have the ability to trigger a pandemic, but vigilance is needed in case it mutates, French scientists said on Friday.

“Our analysis suggests that MERS-CoV does not yet have pandemic potential,” they reported online in The Lancet.

5 Jul 2013 - 12:01pm

US moves to limit contagion if Middle East coronavirus Mers arrives via haj

Asian staff nurses walk towards the King Fahad hospital in Hofuf, 370km east of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Photo: AFP

In a war room of sorts in a neatly appointed government building, US officers dressed in crisp uniforms arranged themselves around a U-shaped table and kept their eyes trained on a giant screen. PowerPoint slides ticked through the latest movements of an enemy that recently emerged in Saudi Arabia - a mysterious virus that has killed more than half of the people known to have been infected.

2 Jul 2013 - 3:16am

Source of deadly Middle East virus remains a mystery

An image of the Mers virus taken by electron microscope. It has striking similarities to the Sars virus that killed 800. Photo: AP

A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than Sars, doctors reported after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia.

21 Jun 2013 - 2:31am

EU agency expresses concern over lack of information on Sars-like virus

A man, wearing a surgical mask as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus, pays for medicine at a hospital pharmacy in Khobar city. Photo: Reuters

The new coronavirus that has killed 38 people, most of them in Saudi Arabia, may evolve into a health crisis reminiscent of Sars as a lack of information from the Arab world's largest economy impedes the fight against the outbreak, a European Union agency said.

19 Jun 2013 - 10:26pm

Saudi Arabia's Sars-like virus death toll now 32

A Saudi man walks towards the King Fahad hospital. Dozens of people have died from the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia. Photo: AFP

Four more people have died and three more have fallen ill in Saudi Arabia from the new Sars-like coronavirus MERS-CoV.

The Saudi Health Ministry said yesterday the four deaths were among previously registered cases. The new infections were in Eastern Province, in the capital, Riyadh, and in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

18 Jun 2013 - 3:50am

Don't let profit stall fight against disease

Participants arrive for an update meeting on the Influenza A (H7N9) situation during the 66th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the United Nations in Geneva. Photo: Reuters

Nothing unites the world more than fighting disease. Despite differences in culture, religion and politics, countries today are closer than ever in fighting viruses and bacteria that can kill. The protection of public health is both a goal and a responsibility. Each country should work harder to ensure citizens' well-being and, ultimately, the good of mankind.

1 Jun 2013 - 1:36am

Incubation period of Sars-like virus may be longer than thought

A doctor speaks to a patient outside a hospital in Khobar, Dammam. Photo: Reuters

The incubation period of the Sars-like virus that has killed 30 people globally, mainly in Saudi Arabia, may be longer than previously thought, requiring longer quarantine, a study says. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) may have an incubation - the period between infection and symptoms - of nine to 12 days, longer than the one-to-nine-day period previously observed.

31 May 2013 - 4:40am

Tunisia announces three cases of coronavirus, one death

A 66-year-old Tunisian man has died from the new coronavirus following a visit to Saudi Arabia and two of his adult children were infected with it, the Tunisian Health Ministry reported.

21 May 2013 - 9:08pm

Consultant tells of battle to prevent deadly outbreak of Sars-like virus

Tong Cheuk-yan and Dr Hung Chi-tim. Photo: SCMP

The tests on the 49-year-old man lying ill in St Thomas' Hospital in London last year were confusing. "The patient tested positive for coronavirus, but he also tested negative for each and every known coronavirus," virologist Tong Cheuk-yan said. "It was then that I started to suspect it might be a new virus."

15 May 2013 - 4:02am

Fear grips Saudi Arabia as coronavirus deaths reach 15

A hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Photo: AFP

Panic has gripped Saudis in the country's east, where most cases of a deadly novel coronavirus have been detected, as the death toll in the kingdom hits 15. Scores of people have reported to the emergency services at hospitals in the city of Al-Ahsa in Eastern Province after showing even the slightest signs of a fever.

15 May 2013 - 4:35am

Saudi Arabia detects four new Sars-like cases

A Saudi health ministry official visits patients infected with a new Sars-like virus at a hospital in the eastern Saudi province of al-Ahsaa on Monday. Photo: AFP

Four more cases of the deadly coronavirus have been detected in Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said, raising the number of people infected from the Sars-like virus in the kingdom to 28, including 15 fatalities.

14 May 2013 - 11:59pm

Hong Kong on alert as France confirms more cases of Sars-like virus

The Roger Salengro Hospital in Lille, northern France, where two patients were diagnosed with the coronavirus related to Sars. Photo: AP

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.

14 May 2013 - 2:44am

'Coronavirus belongs to same family as Sars'

Dr Ho Pak-leung, president of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre of Infection. Photo: KY Cheng

The new Sars-like virus probably originated from an infected bat and was passed to humans via other animals, a veteran Hong Kong virologist said on Monday.

18 Feb 2013 - 4:29pm