GENEVA, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- A Qatari man hospitalized for acute respiratory syndrome due to a new type of coronavirus is currently in critical condition, a spokesman with the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.
Gregory Hartl told reporters that it's a new coronavirus, which causes pneumonia together with rapid kidney failure. How it is transmitted is yet to be determined and WHO is in the process of obtaining further information.
He said although the virus which causes the disease belongs to the same family as what caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and 2003, they were distinctly different and the use of the term "SARS-like" by some media reports is not appropriate.
British Health Protection Agency (HPA) reported to the WHO on Saturday about the case and the organization issued a global alert Sunday.
The 49-year-old Qatari man presented with symptoms on Sept. 3 with travel history to Saudi Arabia prior to onset of illness. He was transferred to Britain on Sept. 11 and laboratory test there confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus, according to the WHO.
Hartl denied human link between this case with a 60 year-old Saudi man who already died of almost identical virus three months ago.
The comparison of sequencings of the viruses obtained from the two cases indicated 99.5 percent identity, with one nucleotide mismatch over the regions compared, the WHO said.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes viruses that cause the common cold and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).