French health authorities said early Sunday that a second person had contracted a deadly new SARS-like virus, after sharing a hospital ward with the first victim identified in the country.
The virus, known as nCoV-EMC, is a cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which triggered a scare 10 years ago when it erupted in east Asia, leaping to humans from animal hosts and killing some 800 people.
The latest victim shared a hospital room with a 65-year-old man who is in intensive care in the northern town of Lille after being diagnosed with the virus that has already killed 18 people, mostly in Saudi Arabia.
"Positive results (for the virus) have been confirmed," for both patients, who are being treated in isolation wards, the health ministry said in a statement.
Two more potential cases were being investigated.
The regional health authority said the first man, who was hospitalised after returning from a holiday in Dubai in April, was in a "very serious but stable condition".
The virus was first detected in September 2012 and since then more than 30 cases have been reported in several countries including Jordan, Britain and Germany.