French authorities have confirmed that a second person has been diagnosed with the SARS-like coronavirus. The case appears to have been one of human-to-human transmission.
On Sunday, French health officials confirmed a second case of the potentially fatal coronavirus, the patient having contracted the infection in a hospital ward.
Professor Benoit Guery, head of the Lille hospital's infectious diseases unit, said infection indicated that it was possible that the virus could be passed on by airborne transmission.
"The transmission chain is becoming clearer," Guery told French broadcaster BFM Television.
Concerns have been raised over clusters of cases of the new coronavirus strain, nCoV, which began in the Gulf and since spread to France, Britain and Germany. Doubts still exist about the precise mechanism by which people contract the disease.
The virus is a cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which caused a scare 10 years ago after an outbreak in eastern Asia and spread to humans from animal hosts, killing some 800 people.
The French Health Ministry noted that the two patients had "close and prolonged contact."
Moved into isolation
The second case was in a 50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room in Valenciennes, northern France, with a 65-year-old taken ill after a visit to Dubai. Both of the men are now being kept in isolation in the nearby city of Lille.
Health officials carried out screenings on 24 people who were in contact with the first case to have been confirmed. Laboratory tests were carried out on five individuals, with the second case the only one to have come back positive.
French authorities said they would broaden their screening program to extend to anyone in contact with the second case.
More than 30 cases of the disease have been reported since it was first detected in September 2012, with 18 fatalities.
rc/mkg (AFP, Reuters)