So far there have been 11 deaths – with the World Health Organisation this week saying a second British man has died.

New research has found that unlike Sars – severe acute respiratory syndrome – the new virus affects many different organs in the body, killing cells extremely quickly.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post, microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung, said if the virus mutated further it could cause a deadly pandemic.

‘It could be more virulent [than Sars]’, he said. ‘The Sars coronavirus infects very few human cell lines. But this new virus can infect many types of human cell lines, and kill cells rapidly.’