Official: Lebanon detects its first MERS case

MERS coronavirus first appeared in Saudi Arabia and cases were also documented in Egypt, the UAE and now Lebanon

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Lebanon’s health ministry confirmed on Thursday that it has detected the first known case of the MERS coronavirus in the country.

“We can confirm that first coronavirus case was detected at one of the Lebanese hospitals but we cannot disclose the name of the hospital at the moment,” the spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.

Lebanon has worked to prevent the disease reaching the country, after it spread from Saudi Arabia to the UAE and Egypt.

Prior to the detection, Lebanon’s health minister gave an order to activate scanners to detect cases of the virus among travelers arriving at Beirut airport.

The minister, Wael Abu Faour, said the scanning devices are now all installed at the airport.

The disease, which first appeared in Saudi Arabia in September 2012, has now infected a total number of 449 Saudis, accounting for the bulk of cases registered across the globe.

It has killed 121 people so far in Saudi Arabia.

MERS is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for MERS, a virus with a a mortality rate of more than 40 percent that experts are still struggling to understand.

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