To help scientists track a deadly new respiratory virus related to Sars, Saudi Arabia says it has dedicated nine additional laboratories to ensure a solution is found before the virus that appears to be centred in the kingdom starts spreading like wild fire.
The Saudi Health Ministry’s Thursday announcement follows its report that two healthcare workers became ill this month after being exposed to patients with the virus. Experts are closely studying whether it can spread easily from person to person.
Since September 2012, the World Health Organisation has been informed of 40 confirmed cases of the virus, mostly in Saudi Arabia but also in Europe and Jordan. At least 20 people have died, including 15 reportedly in Saudi Arabia.
The virus has been compared to SARS, a pneumonia that surfaced in China in late 2002 and killed at least 774 people worldwide.