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Thu 27 Sep 2012 11:10 AM

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SARS-like virus infected five in Denmark - reports

The patients have been isolated in hospital after suffering from flu-like symptoms

SARS-like virus infected five in Denmark - reports
(Image for illustrative purposes)

Five people, including a family of four, have been isolated in a Danish hospital after contracting similar symptoms to the new viral respiratory illness, it was reported.

The patients are suffering from “fever, coughing and influenza-like symptoms,” chief physician Svend Stenvang Petersen of Odense University Hospital told Associated Press.

The father of the family had recently been to Saudi Arabia while an unrelated person had travelled to Qatar. Two of those with symptoms are under the age of five, said Petersen.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier in the week confirmed that the new coronavirus, which comes from the same family as SARS, has killed one person and left a second man in hospital.

The 49-year old Qatari, who fell ill on 3 September, travelled to Saudi Arabia several days prior to falling ill.

The man was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha on 11 September before being transferred to the UK by air ambulance. The virus that affected him has a 99.5 percent match to a virus that killed a 60-year old Saudi national earlier this year.

Saudi officials on Sunday claimed a second person had died but WHO said it was a suspect case.

“WHO is working closely with KSA, as in previous years, to support the country’s health measures for all visitors participating in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca next month,” said WHO.

The cases come a month ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, which draws millions of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from across the world. Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said it has taken precautions to prevent disease spreading during Hajj, which is expected to take place around October 24 to October 29.

“The Health Ministry has taken preventative measures to deal with the influx of over two million Hajj pilgrims,” Ziad Memish, the deputy minister for public health, told Reuters.

“The measures include monitoring the entrances through land, sea and air to evaluate the people entering and obtain samples if any symptoms are apparent,” he added.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that includes causes of the common cold but can also include more severe illness such as the virus responsible for SARS.

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