UAE confirms first cases of new Chinese virus in Mideast

Human coronavirus causes respiratory infections and gastroenteritis. Image produced using high-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI) from an image taken with transmission electron microscopy. Viral diameter around 80-160 nm. ( Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images )

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday confirmed the first cases in the Mideast of the new Chinese virus that causes flu-like symptoms, saying doctors now were treating a family that had just come from a city at the epicenter of the outbreak. 

The UAE's state-run WAM news agency made the announcement citing the Health and Prevention Ministry , but offered no details on where the stricken family lived nor where they were receiving treatment. 

It also did not offer a number of those afflicted by the virus, other than to say the cases came from "members of a family arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan."

The UAE is home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways and is a hub for global air travel.

Officials are taking "all the necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions and standards approved by the World Health Organization," the ministry said. "The general health condition is not a cause for concern."

The new type of coronavirus first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Its symptoms, including cough and fever and in severe cases pneumonia, are similar to many other illnesses.

The new virus causes flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough and in severe cases pneumonia. It's from the coronavirus family, which includes those that can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as SARS and MERS.

The viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 6,000 people in the mainland and more than a dozen other countries. China's death toll has passed 130. 

Several countries have confirmed cases of the virus, with most of them being Chinese visitors, people who visited Wuhan or family members in close contact with the sick.

The source of the virus and the full extent of its spread are still unknown. However, the World Health Organization said most cases reported to date "have been milder, with around 20% of those infected experiencing severe illness."