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Coronavirus: World Health Organization warns of person-to-person transmission

The World Health Organization said Sunday that the new strain of this virus can be passed between two people in close contact.

saudi coronavirusEnlarge
A Saudi health ministry official visits patients infected with a new SARS-like virus at a hospital in the eastern Saudi province of al-Ahsaa on May 13, 2013. Fifteen people in Saudi Arabia have died from the new Coronavirus (nCoV) out of 24 people who contracted it since last August, according to the health minister. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday that the latest strain of the coronavirus can be passed between two people in close contact.

The news came as French authorities said a man that had shared a hospital ward with the country's first coronavirus victim had become infected.

The two shared a room for two days in a hospital in Valenciennes and are both now in hospital in Lille.

The second patient is in intensive care after contracting the virus.

More from GlobalPost: Two now confirmed ill with novel coronavirus in France

The coronavirus, an upper respiratory illness, is similar to the SARS virus, which spread from Asia in 2002 and 2003.

SARS killed 800 people worldwide.

The new virus has killed 18 people since it was identified in 2012 and there have been over 30 confirmed cases, most notably in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and France.

Saudi Arabia has been the most affected with 15 deaths out of 24 confirmed cases.

Many of those dead are adult males.

There have also been cases in Britain and Germany.

The French patient had recently visited the UAE before contracting the virus.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/130513/coronavirus-world-health-organization-warns-person-person-transmission