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Saudi confirms third case of newly discovered SARS-like virus

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - A Saudi citizen in the capital Riyadh is the world's third confirmed case of a newly discovered SARS-related virus but he has now recovered from his illness, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The potentially deadly novel coronavirus is from the same family as SARS but had only been confirmed in two previous cases: a 60-year-old Saudi man who died earlier this year, and a man from Qatar who was treated in a London hospital.

Saudi authorities conducted tests on the new case in the Health Ministry and then sent abroad a sample which tested positive, the agency said, citing a statement from the ministry.

"The patient received the appropriate treatment and has recovered," the agency quoted the ministry as stating, adding that the man had not left Riyadh.

The World Health Organisation put out a global alert in September on the virus, but later added that it did not appear to spread easily from person to person.

Coronaviruses also include strains that cause the common cold as well as SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which emerged in China in 2002 and killed around a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide.

Saudi Arabia had taken precautions to prevent the disease spreading among Muslim pilgrims during the annual Haj pilgrimage which took place at the end of October.

Millions of Muslims from 160 countries flock to Mecca and Medina during the Haj season to perform the annual religious ritual and Saudi Arabia had said at the time it was taking preventative measures to stop the virus from spreading.

(Reporting By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Angus McDowall in Riyadh; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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