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Birmingham patient dies from SARS

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Keith David Barnard

19th February 2013 - A patient being treated in Birmingham has died from a new virus, called a novel coronavirus.

The man died from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the critical care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Sunday morning, the hospital has announced.

The patient was already an outpatient at the hospital for a long-term, unrelated health condition which had affected his immune system.

The patient is believed to have caught the virus from a relative who is being treated for the condition in a Manchester hospital. Another family member is also being treated.

Previous cases had only been seen in people who've returned from visits abroad. Two of the latest cases had no history of recent travel, which the Health Protection Agency (HPA) believes means that transmission occurred in the UK.

However, officials say the threat of the infection spreading across the population remains low.


Many coronaviruses are not a cause for concern. Some strains cause the common cold but also include SARS.

The new coronavirus was first identified in September last year in a patient who died from a severe respiratory infection earlier in the year.

The virus caused serious respiratory illness in the patient who presented with fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Since September last year, there have been a total of 12 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus globally, with six deaths.

Person-to-person transmission

The HPA says intensive work has been carried out in the UK to identify people who've been in contact with the infected family members. More than 100 people who had close contact with the cases have been checked but not found to have the virus.

Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, says in a statement: "The risk of infection in contacts in most circumstances is still considered to be low and the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains very low.

"The three recent cases in the UK represent an important opportunity to obtain more information about the characteristics of this infection in humans and risk factors for its acquisition, particularly in the light of the first ever recorded instance of apparently lower severity of illness in one of the cases."

Reviewed on February 19, 2013

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