The virus, which killed half of the people who became infected, could "endanger the whole world," said Margaret Chan, director general of the United Nations World Health Organization, at the 66th Geneva Assembly of Switzerland. on Monday.
What is a novel Coronavirus?
The coronavirus family includes viruses of varying severity, causing diseases from common cold to SARS (acute respiratory syndrome).
VIDEO: Is there a killer virus?
This strain, now called the Middle Eastern respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, "is different from other people previously found in the population," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, which in some cases cause pneumonia. Health officials are still trying to determine how it is harming people. Although the CDC says clear evidence is being passed on to humans, it does not appear as fast and easy as SARS in 2003. Since then, monitoring techniques have improved, so more viruses are detected. According to experts, most of them do not pose a threat.
News: A New Error Similar to SARS: Pandemic Potential?
And yet, "we know very little about this virus when it comes to the magnitude of its potential danger," Chan said. "We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how humans will be infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty when it comes to prophylaxis. These are call bells. And we have to answer," he said.
WHO monitors infections worldwide: As of September 2012, there have been 44 cases of infections and 22 deaths.
Photo: Celeste Romero Cano / Getty Images