Skip to main content

Boy in Hong Kong hospital tests negative for SARS-like illness

By Katie Hunt, for CNN
updated 4:21 AM EDT, Mon October 8, 2012
Hong Kong commuters during the 2003 SARS outbreak
Hong Kong commuters during the 2003 SARS outbreak
  • Boy tests negative for SARS-like virus that has infected two in Middle East
  • Four-year-old arrived in Hong Kong from Saudi Arabia with his father last week
  • Hong Kong was at epicenter of 2003 SARS outbreak

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A four-year-old boy in a Hong Kong isolation ward has tested negative for a SARS-like virus that infected two people in the Middle East, the government said on Monday.

The illness was instead confirmed to be an influenza infection, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection said and not a case of novel coronavirus -- which belongs to the same family of viruses that caused the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The newly discovered virus killed a 60-year-old Saudi national in June and has left a 49-year-old man from Qatar who had traveled to Saudi Arabia in a critical condition in a London hospital.

The boy arrived in Hong Kong from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with his father on October 3 and was admitted to the emergency room of Ruttonjee Hospital on Sunday with a fever, cough and vomiting. He was later put in isolation at a different hospital.

New SARS-like illness poses medical mystery

Hong Kong, which was at the epicenter of the 2003 SARS outbreak, takes disease control very seriously and put health workers on alert after the World Health Organization first reported the virus's discovery on September 23.

The outbreak of SARS, which killed 299 people in Hong Kong and 800 worldwide, also dealt a severe economic blow, emptying the normally bustling city's shopping malls, restaurants and schools.

The WHO said that while from the same family, the new virus is distinct from SARS.

It said it was investigating the possibility of transmission from animals but, unlike SARS, there is no evidence yet that the novel coronavirus has been transmitted from person to person.

A Hong Kong University researcher, Yuen Kwok-yung said last month that the new virus is closely related to two bat viruses found a few years ago in Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post.

SARS was though to have jumped species from the civet, a member of the cat family.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.