Saudi Arabia has confirmed four new cases of the SARS-like novel coronavirus in its Eastern Province, state media reported, citing the health ministry.
The health ministry said one of the four new cases had been treated and the patient had been released from hospital, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia said it had had a total of 24 confirmed cases since the disease was identified last year, of whom 15 had died. In its latest outbreak in its Eastern Province, it said it had had 15 confirmed cases, of whom nine had died.
A second diagnosis of the new SARS-like coronavirus has been confirmed in France, the Health Ministry said, 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 added.
"Of most concern," said a World Health Organisation statement, "is the fact that the different clusters seen in multiple countries increasingly support the hypothesis that when there is close contact this novel coronavirus can transmit from person-to-person."
At least 18 people are known to have died from the disease in the Middle East and Europe.
Since September last year, when an earlier case of the condition was diagnosed in the UK, 12 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus have been reported globally - killing six people.
The routes of transmission to humans of the novel coronavirus have not yet been fully determined, but the recent UK experience provides strong evidence of human-to-human transmission in at least some circumstances.
The three recent cases in the UK represent an important opportunity to obtain more information about the characteristics of this infection in humans and risk factors for its acquisition, particularly in the light of the first ever recorded instance of apparently lower severity of illness in one of the cases.
The risk of infection in contacts in most circumstances is still considered to be low and the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains very low. The HPA will continue to work closely with national and international health authorities and will share any further advice with health professionals and the public if and when more information becomes available.
– Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency (HPA)
Professor John Watson of the HPA said last week, "Our assessment is that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travellers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low".
"People who develop severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within ten days of returning from these countries should seek medical advice and mention which countries they have visited", he added.
Coronaviruses are part of a family of RNA-containing viruses known to cause severe respiratory illnesses.
The Health Protection Agency said coronaviruses are causes of the common cold but can also include more severe illness, such as the virus responsible for Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
This new strain of coronavirus, known as novel coronavirus, was first identified in September 2012 in a patient who died from a severe respiratory infection in June 2012.
The virus has so far only been identified in a small number of cases of acute, serious respiratory illness who presented with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
The World Health Organisation stressed it is not known how people become infected with this virus. However, it suggests avoiding close contact with anyone who shows symptoms of illness - coughing and sneezing - and maintaining good hand hygiene.
Coronaviruses is one of a family of RNA-containing viruses known to cause severe respiratory illnesses.The HPA said coronaviruses are causes of the common cold but can also include more severe illness, such as the virus responsible for Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
This new virus, however, is different from any that have previously been identified in humans.
In 2003, hundreds of people died after a Sars outbreak in Asia.