Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Two Saudi health workers have become infected with Coronavirus (nCoV) after catching the new SARS-like virus from patients-the first evidence of such transmission inside a hospital, the World Health Organisation said.
"This is the first time health care workers have been diagnosed with (novel coronavirus) infection after exposure to patients," the Geneva-based UN health agency was quoted as saying.
The WHO's update said that, whilst some health care workers in Jordan had previously contracted nCoV, these Saudi cases were the first clear evidence of the virus passing from infected patients.
In addition to warning health care facilities "with suspected nCoV infection" to "take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients and health care workers," the WHO statement also advised health care providers to be "vigilant among recent travellers returning from areas affected by the virus".
Since new form of SARS was first identified in September 2012, the WHO says it has been informed of some 40 worldwide laboratory-confirmed cases, including 20 deaths.
Saudi Arabia has had most of the cases-with 30 patients infected, 15 of them fatally.
The recently infected Saudi health workers are a 45-year-old man, who became ill on 2 May and is currently in a critical condition, and a 43-year-old woman who fell ill on May 8 and is in a stable condition.
WHO experts visiting the kingdom to consult with the authorities on the outbreak said it seemed likely the new virus could be passed between humans, but only after prolonged, close contact.