Death Tally Now at Seven, Infected Cases at 13 with the corona virus, WHO says.
Australian travelers may be in need of a health check after a refreshing European or Middle Eastern trip, warns a WA disease expert.
Curtin University professor Charles Watson told Yahoo News Australia that a SARS-like virus, which has recurred recently in the Middle East and spread to Europe, is threatening the health of tourists from around the world and Australia.
Dr. Watson noted that the virus had first emerged 10 years ago and caused an acute respiratory outbreak in the Middle East.
As of press time, the coronavirus, known as London1 novel CoV2012, had claimed the lives of almost half of the 41 reported cases. But these are isolated cases, Watson confirmed, as the virus is not highly infectious.
He did, however, express growing concern over the upcoming Hajj in Saudi Arabia in October, which was expected to draw in Muslims from the world over, even from Australia.
"While overall you would have to say the risk in countries like Australia is not great at this stage, it really depends if it keeps smouldering on," said Watson in the Yahoo interview.
"If the epidemic was still going on at the time of the hajj... You'd have a lot of people returning home who might get ill and pass it on.
"I think the most sensible thing that they should do is to get a medical check right after returning home," he said.
Watson said setting up a specialised system for monitoring hajj pilgrims returning to the country may be needed as a precautionary measure for preventing the spread of the virus.
Majority of the deaths reported were from eastern Saudi Arabia. This week alone, six new cases have been discovered, according to travel news and advisory website Worldnomads.com.
Last September, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a global alert for a new SARS-like virus that killed a Saudi Arabian national and left a London-based Qatari man in intensive care. The WHO confirmed, however, that the virus was not SARS but a form of coronavirus.
In recent news, Australian doctors and health experts have also warned against a new strain of the bird flu virus (H7N9) that had affected 100 people in China for the past few weeks.
A team of Melbourne-based WHO authorities are currently developing a vaccine to combat the potential spread of the virus-which was deemed as the most lethal bird flu to date-in Australia.
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