The World Health Organization is monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia which faces a possible outbreak of a novel Coronavirus as the kingdom begins receiving Hajj pilgrims. At a UN Headquarters news conference on 25th September Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General, said: “As with any virus, this one is of concern to us and we’re watching it very closely.” The virus has caused the death of a Saudi national and has left a Qatari man in serious conditions at a London hospital. The WHO confirmed the illness was in the coronavirus family but was not SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. “This is not SARS, it will not become SARS, and it is not SARS-like,” said Gregory Haertl, a WHO spokesman in Geneva.
From Saudi Arabia it was reported that no new cases have been recorded and the kingdom is not planning to impose new preventive measures on pilgrims.
The coronaviruses are frequently involved as causes of the common cold but a variant of the virus probably originating in the civet cat was responsible for the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome which spread out of China in 2003.