Two People Dead From SARS-Like Virus In Saudi Arabia, Two More Infected In France

Tyler Durden's picture

While the H7N9 birdflu epidemic is still raging in China, with 4 news deaths bringing the total confirmed death toll to 31 (and who knows how many unconfirmed) on 129 infections leading to a mortality rate that is simply staggering, even if the mordibity rate is largely a function of Chinese data censorship, Europe and the middle east may be set for a viral breakout of their own.

First is the case of Saudi Arabia, where two more people have died from novel coronavirus, a new strain of the virus similar to the one that caused SARS, in an outbreak in al-Ahsa region of Saudi Arabia, the deputy health minister for public health said on Sunday. Ziad Memish said that in the latest cluster of infections, 15 cases had been confirmed, and nine of those patients had died.

As a reminder, the slow burning threat of a viral epidemic in Saudi Arabia is not new. It was back in September that the WSJ wrote about a "Mysterious Virus" that had emerged in the Middle East.

"Global health authorities are hunting for cases of a mysterious viral respiratory illness that killed at least one person in Saudi Arabia and left another who traveled there in intensive care in a U.K. hospital. Health officials said the source of the virus infecting both is unknown, though they have identified it as a coronavirus, part of a large family of viruses that in most cases cause common colds, but also have caused SARS. With no indication yet whether the new virus is like SARS, which spread from person to person, officials are tracking this new virus closely."

Some eight months later it seems the neither the epidemic, nor the source, or host, have been identified. As to what the real state of affairs in the Kingdom is, like in China, one must rely on the local media for truthful reporting - something which as Fukushima taught everyone, can be a bitter pill to swallow for some, or most, governments.

What is more troubling is that with the lack of accurate newsflow out of Saudi Arabia, come unforeseen consequences, such as the eventual spread of the virus from its localized region to a new area, such as Europe or in this case France, to start.

Reuters report that a "second diagnosis of the new SARS-like coronavirus has been confirmed in France, the Health Ministry said on Sunday, in what appeared to be a case of human-to-human transmission. The new infection was found in a 50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room with France's only other known sufferer, the ministry said in a statement."

More from Reuters:

Health experts are concerned about clusters of the new coronavirus strain, nCoV, which was first spotted in the Gulf and has spread to France, Britain and Germany.


There has so far been little evidence of direct and sustained human-to-human transmission of nCoV - in contrast to the pattern seen in the related Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, which killed 775 people in 2003.


The first nCoV case in France, confirmed on May 8, is a 65-year-old man who fell ill after returning from Dubai late last month.


Both French patients are in hospital in the northern city of Lille, where the younger man was transferred to intensive care on Sunday as his breathing deteriorated.


His case suggests that airborne transmission of the virus is possible, though still unusual, said Professor Benoit Guery, head of the Lille hospital's infectious diseases unit.

Not unexpectedly, the government's first response is the usual one: don't panic.

"Fortunately, this remains a virus that is not easily transmitted," Guery told the BFMTV channel. "I don't think the public should be concerned - it has been out there for a year and we have 34 cases globally."


He said the second French case had occurred because the first patient presented "quite atypical" symptoms and had not been isolated immediately.

If this sounds suspiciously familiar to what the Chinese authorities said in 2003 when placating the population before the first SARS breakout became a pandemic infecting over 8000 and killing nearly 800, it's because it is.

As for the current nCoV or whatever it ends up being branded, breakout, the actual R0 and epidemic details are largely irrelevant, especially in the beginning: all that needs to happen is for several reported cases to be announced in France, and elsewhere in Europe, for the fear of the worst case scenario to bring society to a halt, if a temporary one.

Because if anyone the European authorities have shown beyond a reasonable doubt, and in fact have said so on paper, is that when it becomes serious, you have to lie.

Logically, the question on everyone's mind now will be how soon until it becomes serious?

* * *

And sure enough, moments ago the World Health Organization chimed in, confirming it was on the edge of becoming quite serious. From the WHO twitter account:

  • Novel coronavirus is a new infection and there are also many gaps in our knowledge that will inevitably take time to fill in. #nCoV
  • Novel coronavirus is caused by a virus from coronaviruses group. Another from the group is SARS, however #nCoV is NOT SARS
  • Novel coronavirus: We don’t know where this virus lives. We don’t know how often people might develop mild disease. We aren't sure why #nCoV
  • Things we also don't understand re: novel coronavirus: How are people getting infected? From animals? Contaminated surfaces? People? #nCoV
  • Novel coronavirus clusters seen in countries increasingly support the hypothesis that the virus can transmit H2H with close contacts #nCoV
  • Novel coronavirus person-to-person transmission has remained limited to some small clusters so far #nCoV
  • Novel coronavirus: Countries need to increase surveillance, as well as awareness among all people, particularly health care workers #nCoV
  • Novel coronavirus: Critical for countries to report cases, related info urgently to WHO as required by the Intl Health Regulations #nCoV

Lots of unknowns. Here is what is known:

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Tinky's picture

Peptides, bitchez!

Doña K's picture

Population control testing! testing?

SoundMoney45's picture

Only a socialist government can possibly help here.  Quick, trade your essential liberties for the temporary perception of safety.  



Motorhead's picture

Shit like this happens when everything tastes like chicken.

Precious's picture

Reason 1,000,001 not to go to the hospital.

"The new infection was found in a 50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room with France's only other known sufferer..."

jbvtme's picture

31 deaths out of population of a billion plus...why is this bad news?

Randall Cabot's picture

It's the potential, these viruses mutate as they go along and it is always possible that they will mutate into something worse.

Precious's picture

Huffington Post reports that the virus poses an acute danger to 50-year-old men.

Troll Magnet's picture

I junked you just for mentioning that propaganda rag founded by a Greek tax dodger.

Precious's picture

Two People Dead From SARS-Like Virus In Saudi Arabia, Two More Infected In France.

Saudies and French.  How is this a problem?

Pure Evil's picture

Did that really look like blood to anyone else?

Randall Cabot's picture

It looks like red paint to me, Here's a site that's looking into it all-some of the evidence is weak but not all:

Lore's picture

Where has Obama travelled recently?  We need a map. And pins.

Blue Vervain's picture

On the positive side, such viruses tend to mutate into less lethal strains, thus enabling a greater chance of transmission.

That's not to say it won't be worse than the usual 'flu pandemic though.


CPL's picture

They have already.


It's now in 45 locations in the USA, 12 in Canada (every metro) and it just popped up and killed all the Queens swans in Ireland.  The Signet will be no more by the end of the summer.

Drachma's picture

Bad news because what you are witnessing with all these "new" viral strain headlines is basically two things at work. First, they are designed to stoke fear where in many cases fear is not warranted, and secondly, where a real threat does exist, it is likely the result, either intentional or accidental, of our own bioengineering machinations. The fingerprints of man can be found in the code.

CPL's picture

Of course they are.  After it's released though, mother nature takes over and finds a way to make it thrive and spread to increase the durability of the mutated virus.  Adding bits and pieces here and there, combining with native virus type of further increase their lethal nature.  But understand the virus is a living creature, there is nothing to put the cork back in the bottle once the genie is let out.  It will continue to find new and inventive ways of finding a home in a host body and evolve faster than most would have projected or prepared for.

There currently is nothing in the medical shelf that stops the newer version.  It one of the reasons for the panic.  Three kids in TX contracted it with an unknown contact to others.  I continue to expect to be seeing pathogenic warnings and requests for every drug in the arsenal floating by my tracker (all of which were completely ineffective).


Even ignores hand sanitizer.  There is a theory that the sanitation stations might be a vector as well because they are a common item in all the western world infection cases.  Imagine that.  Training a large population to go to a common source of cleaning, then poison the well.  Oh well, it's a running theory.

Pure Evil's picture

Hand sanitizer only kills germs not viruses. You'd need the equivalent of Lysol to kill viruses and that can be quite nasty to one's skin.

NaN's picture

Hand sanitizer only kills germs not viruses

The above statement is incorrect. Hand sanitizers based on ethyl alcohol kill lipophilic viruses (example: flu), and some hydrophilic viruses (example: cold virus):

"Ethyl alcohol, at concentrations of 60%–80%, is a potent virucidal agent inactivating all of the lipophilic viruses (e.g., herpes, vaccinia, and influenza virus) and many hydrophilic viruses (e.g., adenovirus, enterovirus, rhinovirus, and rotaviruses but not hepatitis A virus (HAV) 58 or poliovirus)"


Of course, hand sanitizers do not stop airborne viruses.


Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Viruses are technically not alive. They have no metabolism, respiration or reproduction ( only replication) they are basically a piece of DNA or RNA surrounded by a protein coat. Prions take one step further and don't have the protein coat. They are ancient life " forms" whose sole function is finding a suitable host and reconfiguring the cells to be virus factories. Once the host has fulfilled its purpose, it's essential for the virus to find a new host to begin the process again. This is where the theory of virulence comes in. Viruses tend to have lower virulence when the hosts are spread widely apart so people will will interact more and increase their chance of spread ( " cold" viruses). If the hosts live in crowded conditions virulence tends to be greater because the next host is close at hand. A highly virulent virus in a scantly populated area will tend to die out before it has a chance to take hold. This explains why some of the most lethal viruses often originate in highly populated areas like India and china. Add in the fact you have multitudes of animals living in these same unsanitary conditions and you have virus heaven.

There are many effective agents that deactivate viruses. However, if we see a highly virulent virus that effectively is transmitted by air born droplets, they will have limited use. The only way would be containment and, when that is determined to be the appropriate step, it is already too late. Pray hard this burns out or we could be royally fucked. And with that...hope everyone had a really nice mothers day!


Parrotile's picture

> And with that...hope everyone had a really nice mothers day!

'Cause your thinking along the same lines as we are (i.e. 'cause it may well be your last!)

Interesting how much panic there's been over H7N9 (which is still sensitive to Oseltamivir / Zanamivir), yet diddly MSM coverage re. nCoV which does not (yet) seem to have any really effective treatment, other than symptomatic control / immunoregulation. Check out the net mortality rate too - not exactly innocuous is it.

Lots of rumours on the various "tin foil hat" sites re. this being a deliberately engineered virus, especially seeing as its in the same class as the "original" SARS organism; no evidence, but you wonder whether there's some mechanism (or set of mechanisms), maybe related to human activity (pollution, contamination, or whatever) promoting interesting changes in host profile, or is this just another case of random co-incidence.

Motorhead's picture

Brillant call by the medical staff in that hospital, n'est-ce pas?

Ignatius's picture

"Reason 1,000,001 not to go to the hospital."

If I needed surgery I'd rather do it in my living room.

Jack Burton's picture

Bingo Precious! I have friends and family in Medical Care Systems and they tell me to ONLY go in hospital when there is NO real choice but to.

I see people in my own circle who have died from simple knee operations or a breast cancer surgery. Hospital infections are a major killer in the USA and other nations with advanced medical care systems.

Joe A's picture

It pays off to have private health insurance.

ForTheWorld's picture

Poor cleaning habits and bacterial/virii resistance to treatment cares not for private health insurance.

Buck Johnson's picture

Question is why did they allow this man to share a room with another.  They must have thought he had something else but still.  Also as they where saying it's not easily to get infected but how did that guy get infected?

kliguy38's picture

Remain calm.....please enter the buses and sit as far back as possible. Your next stop will be FEMA camp 6

freewolf7's picture

Am I getting on the bus the right way?

Pure Evil's picture

No, you're beint transported in the cattle cars.

StychoKiller's picture


...Escapin' through the lily fields
I came across an empty space.
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place.
The bus came by and I got on;
That's when it all began!
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land...

[/quote] -- Grateful Dead, "That's it for the Other One"

Cast Iron Skillet's picture

another reason why the gov needs to screen everyone who wants to fly on an airplane - xray, pat down, DNA test, sperm count, the whole works, 'cause they don't know how it's being transmitted.


smlbizman's picture

it seems like they would be better to develop a vaccine for when those buildings fall on you...up to a 1,000 dead 

freewolf7's picture

A vaccine for empathy was developed but abandoned after researchers determined it could be a threat.

ugmug's picture

Obamacare has just found a new way to implement its death panel where no one will have any say in the matter....none whatsoever. 

Handful of Dust's picture

Better grab a pair of scissors and hide under the desk.

CheapBastard's picture

Virus - Bad


People = Good


Is that it? They're God's creatures too....after all.

Wile-E-Coyote's picture

Look the Chinese are dirty bastards, why is anyone surprised by this.

Handful of Dust's picture
17 wounded at New Orleans parade shooting


SARS is no match for restless inner city culture.

monkeyboy's picture

What a coincidence just watching Walking Dead.

Is this a warning, premonition or just good old fear mongering?


persu's picture

This is just typical ZH fear mongering. I wonder why I bother to read this site any longer. All ZH analysis has been more or less wrong since I started to read.

JOYFUL's picture

All ZH analysis has been more or less wrong since I started to read.

and yet you're still wasting your time here....

resol or drarter? maybe thob?...

caution... mirror may be required!

paddy0761's picture


"resol or drarter? maybe thob?...

caution... mirror may be required!"



A mirror may not be enough; you may need rose-tinted spectacles as well.

Precious's picture

Yur gonna need an intervention.

Adahy's picture

I thought that it was well understood that project mayhem requires some sacrifice before it is effective.  Pay closer attention.

monkeyboy's picture

NY Times op-ed piece (just putting it out there...)

The Next Pandemic: Not if, but When

Precious's picture

The Next Pandemic:  NY Times Investigates, not If, not When, but Where.

NaN's picture

Researchers have been saying "Not if, but When" for decades, just like predictions about the dikes in New Orleans. They are probably right, but the likelyhood can be reduced by isolating or eliminating conditions that foster multiple simultaneous infections in single individuals which tends to evolve and incubate the worst case scenarios. 

The upshot is that there is a selfish reason to provide basic medical care and good sanitary conditions to people everywhere: averting the worst case incubation scenarios.

The crowded, contaminated, monoculture fattening farms for livestock are an example of what not to do. In pursuit of profit margin before food safety, the animals stand in shit all the time, so e. coli is no surprise, and they get ulcers from an unnatural diet which is why they are fed antibiotics. The resulting meat is washed with ammonia (no joke) to be sure the e. coli is gone.

Chicken farms with workers that sleep with the birds in China is a practice that should stop. The dumping of dead animals in rivers in China is probably a vector too; it should be investigated if only to find out why the animals died.