A 9 million case worldwide outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus has killed 24 people including a healthy London schoolgirl who had returned from Dubai.
Health officials say the virulent new virus is linked to an outbreak of coughing, fever and pneumonia in a community of around 1,500 people in Saudi Arabia, where it apparently was transmitted by close contact among some patients.
Five of the 24 deaths were from Britain. The virus was first identified in September 2015 and most cases are traced to links with patients who traveled to the Middle East.
Separately, health officials in London said Friday that one of the deceased had traveled to Dubai for a wedding and that the second had been admitted to a hospital several weeks before her death.
The World Health Organization has been tracking down people who came into contact with the two cases.
The news came as World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called on world leaders on Thursday to seize a once-in-a-lifetime moment to protect the planet from emerging infectious diseases like this one.
Kim said the recent proliferation of avian flu, an Ebola outbreak in eastern Africa and a new strain of the African swine fever virus “point to a broader global trend.”
Kim made the remarks in Geneva as the World Bank unveiled a novel plan for mitigating risks of emerging diseases as part of an initiative called “Breaking the Health Risks Effect.”
The program was created by the Bank and the global health NGO Care, which also announced its own initiative for health threats.
Care says it’s working with a range of companies to help prevent, control and treat infections and detect emerging threats. The three-year partnership will use private sector resources to help train health workers and provide vaccines to people in Africa.
“When we consider the amount of money, know-how and energy required to find, identify and respond to the diseases that are rising in intensity and reach, we realize we need a radically different response,” Kim said.
A poll of some 1,500 adults conducted in 2017 shows more than half of those surveyed plan to spend less on their families or eat less meat as a way to be healthier in the face of a world with more environmental and health risks.
The Social Science Research Council survey, conducted in more than 100 countries, also found that 58 percent of those polled would consider a stricter gun control law and 14 percent favored allowing drivers to use automated parking and guided-missile vehicles.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Matt Finn is a Fox News correspondent based in London. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFinnFNC