New SARS-like virus detected in Middle East

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LONDON — Global health officials are closely monitoring a new respiratory virus related to SARS that is believed to have killed at least one person in Saudi Arabia and left a Qatari citizen in critical condition in London.

The germ is a coronavirus, from a family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a 2003 epidemic.

Saudi officials said they were concerned that the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage next month could provide more opportunities for the virus to spread. The Hajj has previously sparked outbreaks of diseases including the flu, meningitis and polio.

Printed on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 as: Officials on watch, observe new virus