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Saudi Arabia confirms four new cases of deadly SARS-like virus

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has confirmed four new cases of the SARS-like novel coronavirus in its Eastern Province, state media reported late on Monday, 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, while the three other new cases were still being treated, 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.

World Health Organisation officials visiting Saudi Arabia to consult with the authorities on the outbreak said on Sunday it seemed likely the new virus could be passed between humans, but only after prolonged, close contact.

The new virus (nCov) can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia. A virus from the same family triggered the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that swept the world after emerging in Asia and killed 775 people in 2003.

French authorities announced on Sunday that a second man had been diagnosed with the disease after sharing a hospital room with France's only other sufferer, who had recently traveled in the Middle East.

(Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Paul Simao)

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