Five Saudis have died from a new viral illness similar to SARS that gripped Asia 10 years ago. Since 2012 hCoV has claimed 16 lives, mostly in Saudi Arabia as well as in Jordan, Germany and Britain.
Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry anounced that, in addition to the five deaths in recent days, two more patients with novel human coronavirus or hCoV were being treated in an intensive care unit in the oil-rich eastern region of Ahsaa.
Precautionary measures were also being taken for "persons who have been in contact with the infected people," according to a ministry statement quoted by Saudi media on Thursday.
The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the death in Germany occurred in March and involved a 73-year-old Saudi man who had traveled in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before being transferred to Munich from Abu Dhabi.
The new virus was unknown in humans until it emerged in the Middle East last year. It causes respiratory problems and can cause rapid kidney failure.
A WHO spokesman quoted by the news agency AFP on Thursday said a travel warning for Saudi Arabia was "unlikely" because there had been "no change in the risk assessment."
In 2003 SARS killed more than 800 people when it swept China.
ipj/dr (dpa, AFP, Reuters)