'Sars-like virus' man in stable condition


A man who contracted a potentially fatal Sars-like virus is now in a stable condition.

The 49-year-old, from Qatar, is being treated in an intensive care unit at St Thomas' hospital in London after he became infected with a new type of coronavirus.

A spokesman for the hospital today confirmed that the man has been in a stable condition for the last two days.

The man, who is still in isolation, is connected to an artificial lung to keep him alive.

He is receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) treatment, which delivers oxygen to the blood outside the body when the lungs are not able to. It also continuously pumps blood into and around the body.

The man, who was suffering from acute respiratory syndrome and renal failure, was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar, on September 7. He was transferred to the UK by air ambulance on September 11.

Before he became ill he had travelled to Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organisation said.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the man has contracted a "new virus" which has only been identified in one other case. That patient, a 60-year-old from Saudi Arabia, died as a result of the virus.

A HPA spokeswoman said preliminary inquiries had found no contact between the two patients.

The organisation is also investigating a "small number" of cases which could be linked to the virus. One patient, who travelled to the Middle East in the last three months, was treated in the UK but has since died, the HPA said.

Coronaviruses cause most common colds but can also cause Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome). In 2003, hundreds of people died after a Sars outbreak in Asia.