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WHO issues guidance on SARS-like virus

GENEVA -- The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged health workers around the world to report any patient with acute respiratory infection who may have traveled to Saudi Arabia or Qatar and been exposed to a new SARS-like virus confirmed in two people so far.

The United Nations agency put out a global alert on Sunday saying a new virus had infected a 49-year-old Qatari who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia — where another man with an almost identical virus had died.

The Qatari remained critically ill in hospital in Britain, according to the WHO's latest information as of Tuesday.

The WHO said on Wednesday no new case of acute respiratory syndrome with renal failure due to the new virus had been reported but its investigations continued.

“We've got things in place should things change, should the behavior of the virus change,” spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

The WHO said it was working closely with Saudi authorities regarding health measures for the haj pilgrimage to Mecca next month when millions of Muslims travel to the kingdom and then return to their home countries.

Clinical Definition

Its clinical guidance to 194 member states said health care workers should be alert to anyone with acute respiratory syndrome that may include fever (above 38 C or 100.4 F) and cough, requiring hospitalization, who had been in the area where the virus was found or in contact with a suspect or confirmed case within the previous 10 days.

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