The French Health Ministry confirmed a second diagnosis of the new SARS-like coronavirus in what might be a case of airborne transmission of the deadly disease.

Thus far, there has been little evidence of direct transmission from person to person of novel coronavirus (nCoV), unlike the outbreak of the related Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, which killed 775. This disease first appeared in the Persian/Arabian Gulf and has spread to France, Britain, and Germany.

The French Health Ministry said Sunday a 50-year-old man was diagnosed with nCov after sharing a hospital room in Valenciennes with the only other sufferer of the disease in France. That 65-year-old man had become sick after returning to France from Dubai late in April. Both men are still in hospital in nearby Lille, but the second man was transferred to intensive care there Sunday as his condition worsened.

Benoit Guery, the head of the hospital's infectious diseases unit, told media the airborne transmission occurred because the hospital failed to isolate the first patient immediately, given his "atypical" symptoms.

"Fortunately, this remains a virus that is not easily transmitted," Guery told media. "I don't think the public should be concerned — it has been out there for a year and we have 34 cases globally."

French health officials screened 124 people who'd had contact with the patient, testing at least five for the disease, including three medical staff. The tests revealed only the one transmission, due to "close and prolonged" contact.

French health officials are now screening everyone who came into contact with the second patient.