ISLAMABAD - Global health policymakers have announced that they are investigating the emergence of a new virus — one very similar to the dangerous severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus — in Thailand and Japan, hinting at worries that it could spread farther. SARS is part of the corona virus family, which encompasses a range of airborne viruses. These can cause infections of varying degrees of severity. In the case of SARS, the first symptom is a high fever and sometimes coughing. A person with the infection usually develops pneumonia, which can become life threatening. A SARS epidemic in 2002– 2003 affected people in as many as 26 countries, and most cases occurred in mainland China and Hong Kong. In mainland China, the SARS virus infected more than 5,300 people and led to the death of 349, while in Hong Kong it affected 1,750 people and resulted in the death of 286 individuals. After 2003, the SARS virus dropped off the radar, for the most part. However, in December 2019, Chinese authorities reported the emergence of a series of new corona virus infections. According to information available to the World Health Organization (WHO) at the start of 2020, 41 cases of the novel corona virus had been diagnosed in Wuhan, the capital of Huabei province in central China.