Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health said the number of deaths from the coronavirus infection has reached 15, with 24 confirmed cases since September 2012.
Saudi Arabia has invited scientists from Columbia University to help with a field and environmental survey and also other specialists from Canada, the U.S. and the World Health Organization, the ministry said.
“After studying the cases of infected people, indicators of close-contact transmission are evident,” the Minister of Health, Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said in a statement today. “However, the method of transition and the source of the virus are yet to be known.”
Coronaviruses are a family of pathogens that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which sickened more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in 2002 and 2003, according to the WHO. While the new virus is related to the one that causes SARS, it appears far less transmissible, the WHO has said.
France reported its first confirmed case of the infection five days ago. The patient had traveled to the Middle East, where the first cases of the virus were reported last year, according to the World Health Organization. Her roommate, doctor and a nurse have been hospitalized for tests in Valenciennes, in northern France, radio station France Info reported on its website.
A second confirmed coronavirus-related infection was reported in France today as an investigation to identify other potential cases went on in the northern part of the country. The newly infected person shared the room with the first patient infected by the new coronavirus from April 27 to April 29, the French Health Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.