New case of SARS-like virus in Saudi: ministry

A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.

"One new case of novel coronavirus recorded in the Eastern Region" where most of the kingdom's cases have been registered, said the ministry, which this week created a special web page dedicated to the outbreak.

"One case of coronavirus has been recorded in the Eastern Region, and he is now under the medical healthcare receiving the proper treatment," the web page in English reported.

The latest case takes to 31 the number of officially recorded cases of the virus in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom since September. Fifteen of those have died.

On Wednesday, the Geneva-based reported that two Saudi health workers have contracted the deadly coronavirus from patients—the first evidence of transmission in a hospital setting.

"This is the first time health care workers have been diagnosed with nCoV (novel ) infection after exposure to patients," the WHO said in a statement.

Since last September, the WHO says it has been informed of a global total of 40 laboratory confirmed cases of the virus, including 20 deaths.

While the virus has been deadliest in , cases have also been reported in Jordan, Qatar, Germany, Britain and France, where two patients are now in hospital in the northern city of Lille.

The virus is a cousin of (SARS), which triggered a scare 10 years ago when it erupted in , leaping to humans from animal hosts and eventually killing some 800 people.

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