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Saudi Arabia: Two dead, 10 more infected with Mers: Gulf News

NewsWorld365 NewsWorld365 , April 27, 2014

Two Saudi nationals have died from Mers, taking the death toll from the coronavirus in the worst-hit country to 94, the health ministry said Sunday.

A 63-year-old woman, who had suffered chronic illness, died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome on Saturday in the western city of Jeddah, and a 78-year-old man died from the disease in Riyadh, it said.

The authorities also confirmed 10 more cases the virus.

It follows Egypt’s announcement on Saturday that it had confirmed its first case of Mers in a man who had recently returned to the country from Riyadh, where he was working.

The 127 cases announced since the start of April represent a 65 per cent jump in total infections in Saudi Arabia this month.

The new cases included seven in Jeddah, the focal point for the recent outbreak, two in the capital Riyadh and another in Makkah, the Health Ministry said in a statement on its website.

The acting health minister, Adel Fakieh, said on Saturday he had designated three hospitals in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam on the Gulf coast as specialist centres for Mers treatment.

The three hospitals can accommodate 146 patients in intensive care, he said in comments carried by local press on Sunday.

Many Saudis have voiced concerns on social media about government handling of the outbreak, and last week King Abdullah sacked the health minister.

In Jeddah, some people are wearing face masks and avoiding public gatherings, while pharmacies say sales of hand sanitisers and other hygiene products are soaring.

The ministry said the total number of cases diagnosed since the virus first emerged in September 2012 has reached 323, representing the bulk of infections registered globally.

Public concern over the spread of Mers mounted last week after the resignation of at least four doctors at Jeddah’s King Fahd Hospital who refused to treat patients for fear of infection.

The World Health Organisation announced Wednesday that it had offered to send international experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate “any evolving risk” associated with the transmission pattern of the virus.

Mers is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Sars virus which erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine per cent of whom died.

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