The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Germany has risen to 9. The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that there could be 100,000 deaths from the virus worldwide by the end of 2014 if it is not contained.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute said that two more people had been infected with coronavirus since Saturday and one was hospitalized. It added that a third person who had been recently tested for coronavirus showed no signs of infection, suggesting they may have contracted a different virus or were misdiagnosed and did not actually have the rare disease.
The six confirmed cases in Germany are among 50 people currently being investigated for having the coronavirus. The remainder are either under observation or have been tested negative.
Coronavirus is a viral respiratory illness that has affected 60 people worldwide, killing 36 of them since it was identified two years ago in Saudi Arabia. The majority of those with the virus have had a history of travel to the Middle East.
In 2003, coronavirus sparked fears of a possible pandemic after it killed about 100 people in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
In the case of SARS, some 8,000 people became infected and 800 died across 30 countries.
Coronavirus can cause fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.
The WHO has convened an emergency committee to review the situation and advise on steps countries should take in relation to their borders to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The committee will meet on Wednesday, but the WHO said it had already advised countries to take steps such as strengthening measures to detect the virus in travellers and establish better surveillance systems for pneumonia.
Until now, we know of around 50 cases worldwide, said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman at the WHO. We may well not have heard about all cases.
We have a list of more than 60 countries where there is a risk, and we’re trying to work out a system with the WHO country representatives for assessing that risk, he said. Within those countries, on a regional level, there are some countries which have more risks than others.
It’s more like the usual centres such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and some of the Emirates where we think there is a higher risk of transmission.
However, there may be countries that we do not know about yet, he said.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute said on Tuesday that coronavirus had twice been detected in samples from the Middle East, in Jordan in 2012 and Saudi Arabia this year.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the Saudi Arabian patient was still in intensive care and had shown some improvement.
On Monday, French Health Minister Marisol Touraine confirmed a case of coronavirus in France. The infected patient was transferred from Valenciennes to a specialist unit at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris on Friday.
The patient, who was suffering from renal failure, had spent time between Oman and Britain before falling ill. The ministry said it was not clear where he contracted the virus.
So far, France is the only European country to report a confirmed case of coronavirus infection, but Britain’s Health Protection Agency said on Monday several patients were being treated for the disease in hospitals across the country.
A 38-year-old Qatari man who was working in Britain died from coronavirus last October after having contact with animals, triggering an investigation into hundreds of possible sufferers, although two other people tested negative.