While new scientific discoveries are always welcomed there is a flip side to the new and this can be particularly negative when it comes to the discovery of new viruses. With such lethal viruses as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Bird, Swine and even Seal Flu having recently been detected, there is always the risk of any of these viruses becoming pandemics and now according to officials in the United Kingdom, a new SARS-like coronavirus has been detected, already claiming the life of one man.
Reports emerged after a 49-year-old man was transferred to a hospital in London from his native Qatar, suffering from a respiratory illness that drew a striking resemblance to SARS. SARS had previously gone global back in 2003 when it claimed the lives of many hundreds. This presently unnamed coronavirus has already claimed the life of one man in Saudi Arabia whereas the second patient is still under observation, being treated at a hospital in the UK.
Doctors are still unsure as to just how the new virus affects people and what its possible threat could be however researchers are confident that the new respiratory illness is not in the same league as that of SARS. The World Health Organization (WHO) has similarly not issued any travel restrictions or warnings.
Speaking about the new virus, the head of the respiratory diseases department at the UK's Health Protection Agency, Professor John Watson said, "In the light of the severity of the illness that has been identified in the two confirmed cases, immediate steps have been taken to ensure that people who have been in contact with the UK case have not been infected, and there is no evidence to suggest that they have. Further information about these cases is being developed for healthcare workers in the UK, as well as advice to help maintain increased vigilance for this virus."
Those are studying the virus believe that it does not have the kind of spreading effects that SARS had, which saw those coming into contact with the affected patients being infected. In this regard Prof John Oxford, a virology expert at Queen Mary, University of London said, "SARS was very quick off the mark infecting hospital staff etc and this new virus does not to me appear to be in the same 'big bang' group."
Similarly, Peter Openshaw, director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London told the Reuters news agency that the new virus was unlikely to spread and that its detection may have been because of sophisticated testing techniques.