Sars-Like Coronavirus Claims Life of First British Patient

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By Hannah Osborne | February 19, 2013 9:59 PM EST

The coronavirus is similar to Sars (Wiki Commons)

A patient has died from the Sars-like coronavirus infection in a Birmingham hospital.

The patient, who was being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, died from the disease. The victim, who has not been identified, was admitted last week.

The patient had caught the infection from a family member, who had developed the disease while travelling in the Middle East and was admitted to hospital in Manchester.

A statement from the hospital said: "The patient passed away on Sunday morning in the hospital's critical care unit.

"The patient was already an outpatient at QEHB, undergoing treatment for a long-term, complex, unrelated health condition. The patient was immuno-compromised and is believed to have contracted the virus from a relative who is being treated for the condition in a Manchester hospital."

The death shows that the coronavirus spreads from person to person, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.

John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, had warned that the relative who caught the infection was predisposed to infections.

He said: "Confirmed novel coronavirus infection in a person without travel history to the Middle East suggests that person-to-person transmission has occurred, and that it occurred in the UK.

Underlying health condition

"This case is a family member who was in close personal contact with the earlier case and who may have been at greater risk of acquiring an infection because of their underlying health condition.

"To date, evidence of person-to-person transmission has been limited. Although this case provides strong evidence for person-to-person transmission, the risk of infection in most circumstances is still considered to be very low."

Two family members caught the disease from the person who was travelling in Qatar. The other family member was being treated in isolation.

In total, six people have died from the coronavirus: three in Saudi Arabia, two in Jordan and one in the UK.

This means the mortality rate of the coronavirus is 50 percent. Twelve people have been diagnosed with the disease since it emerged last June when someone died from the disease.

It was formally identified in September, with patients presenting with serious respiratory illness.

Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. It is similar to Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed almost 800 people between 2002 and 2003.

Including the recently deceased patient, four people have contracted the disease in the UK, including two who caught it from another person. Before the recent death, all the cases had developed in people who had been travelling in the Middle East.

READ: Coronavirus Patient in Isolation as Fourth Sars-Like Case Confirmed in UK

Second Case of Deadly Sars-Like Virus Identified in Manchester

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