A resident of the UK is now fighting for his life in intensive care in a Manchester hospital after he fell ill from a SARS-like virus.

The patient is the tenth confirmed case around the world with this specific virus, the others hailing from Saudia Arabia and Jordan. After coming back to the UK from trips to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan the man became ill and was admitted to the hospital where he was found to have a new type of coronavirus, first spotted in the wild this past September.

Five patients in Saudi Arabia have already died from this infection.

SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome, killed 800 people in 2003, 10% of the 8,000 confirmed infected.

With the current infection rate the mortality for this virus stands at 50%. By comparison, the mortality for the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic is estimated at 10-20%.

Prof John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), said: "The HPA is providing advice to healthcare workers to ensure the patient under investigation is being treated appropriately and that healthcare staff who are looking after the patient are protected. Contacts of the case are also being followed up to check on their health."

But Prof Watson said people who developed severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within 10 days of returning from the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding regions should seek medical advice and mention the countries they have visited.

The virus is spread by droplets of body fluid such as saliva and can be easily spread by coughing or sneezing, although there is no evidence that the virus can spread from person to person at this time.

Experts suspect that the virus is spreading through close proximity with either camels or bats that have been infected.

Researchers stress that there is no cause for alarm, as historically the SARS virus extinguished itself as fast as it came to prominence and never became an epidemic in 2002.

Scientists have already sequenced the genome of the virus which will help in tracking down suspected cases and forming a defense strategy.

This is the second patient in the UK that has become ill from the virus.

Updates ion the virus can be found at the UK Health Protection Agency site here