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France confirms first case of new SARS-related virus

coronavirus_AP_Feb 13 2013.jpg

This undated image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an electron microscope image of a coronavirus, part of a family of viruses that cause ailments including the common cold and SARS. (AP Photo/Health Protection Agency)

French health authorities say they have confirmed the country's first case of a new respiratory virus related to SARS, in a traveler returning from the United Arab Emirates.

The Health Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the person is hospitalized in isolation and is under medical surveillance. It says Paris' Pasteur Institute analyzed the virus and confirmed that it is a novel coronavirus, the first such case in France.

The ministry gave no other details. Health Minister Marisol Touraine plans a news conference later Wednesday to elaborate.

The new coronavirus, first identified last year, can cause acute pneumonia and kidney failure. Since September 2012, the World Health Organization has been informed of 24 confirmed cases. Sixteen of the patients died.