(AP)—Saudi Arabia's health minister says a new respiratory virus related to SARS that has infected two people does not pose a threat to the more than 1 million Muslims set to embark on the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the kingdom.
Abdullah al-Rabeeah said Monday the virus has so far been contained.
The germ is a coronavirus, from a family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a 2003 epidemic.
Global health officials suspect two victims from the Middle East may have caught it from animals.
The World Health Organization issued a global alert asking doctors to be on guard for any potential cases of the new virus, which also causes kidney failure.
Explore further: Saudi take steps to thwart epidemic at hajj: report