The coronavirus, which exists in the same family as the SARS virus, has killed at least 18 people in the UK, France, Germany, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. So far, the virus has killed more than half of the 34 people found to be infected.

A recent diagnosis of one patient last Wednesday in France has forced health officials to focus on all those who came into contact with the infected individual. Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that among the 120 people who had known contact with the now deceased patient in France, one did test positive for the coronavirus after laboratory testing.

This raises yet more concern that the virus could already have the ability to be transmitted between people. Evidence from the family in the UK, who had one member travel home from Saudi Arabia and infect two other family members, was the first sign that the virus could spread from person to person. Health officials worried at the time that the infection could be contagious, but after no new infections were diagnosed in the UK, those fears were quelled.

WHO suggests that the virus may only spread after prolonged contact with someone infected, as French authorities said that the newly diagnosed patient had shared a hospital room with the first French patient. WHO currently has a team on the ground in Saudi Arabia and is investigating not only the hospital facilitates and quarantine procedures, but also the source of the infections.