The number of people infected with the new coronavirus in the Middle East rose to seven, with another probable case, as the World Health Organization recommended other countries increase monitoring for the bug.
All eight cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia in the areas around Jeddah and Riyadh, and in Doha, Qatar, the Geneva-based WHO said in an update on its website.
The source of the virus and the means of transmission is unclear, though genetic evidence suggests it’s most closely related to a coronavirus found in bats, the WHO said. All eight cases are male, though the significance of that isn’t known, the United Nations agency said.
“The newly reported cases demonstrate that the virus has persisted over a period of at least five months and is geographically distributed over a wider area than was evidenced by the first two cases,” the WHO said. “Given that the exact extent of the distribution is unknown, WHO is taking the precaution of recommending an expansion of surveillance to monitor for the appearance of the virus in other countries.”