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New SARS-like virus is a 'threat to the entire world' - MERS-CoV

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"We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat," she said, and more information is needed "quickly" and "urgently."

"We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond," she said.

The virus had infected 44 people worldwide as of last week, most of them in the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization's most recent update Thursday. Half of them have died.

Unless it is highly contagious, infecting 44 people is not an outbreak.

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