Saudi review finds over 100 more MERS infections

Particles of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus that emerged in 2012 are seen in an undated colorized transmission electron micrograph. (Reuters)

A recent Saudi review of health data has found that the death toll from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has surged to 282, state media, quoting the ministry of health, reported on Tuesday.

Video: Saudi health minister speaks on recent MERS data review

The original death toll in the kingdom had earlier stood at 190 people, on the basis of data collected since 2012.

The “comprehensive revision” of the data also identified 113 more cases of people infected with the sometimes-deadly virus. These figures were revised from 575 to 688.

Of those infected, the ministry says 53 are still receiving treatment.

Referring to the report, acting Saudi Health Minister Adel Fakieh told Al Arabiya News Channel that there was a decline in the average number of registered infections over the past five weeks.

“The number of cases which were recorded per week reached about 108 new cases, and last week they dropped to 28 new cases only,” Fakieh said.

“This means that the average number of cases recorded in the past five weeks has decreased so far by 80 percent compared to the number during the five weeks that had preceded.”

Fakieh said the report provided a re-examination of the data since 2012, when MERS was first identified in the kingdom.

“Now we can say that we have a clear and accurate list that has all the details. Any missing, incorrect or incomplete data is being corrected. This is the clear and final record, not only for last week, but since 2012,” he said.

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

Like Sars, it appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering coughing, breathing difficulties and a temperature. But MERS differs in that it causes rapid kidney failure.

Last month, Fakieh announced he was sacking the head of the King Fahd Hospital in the western city of Jeddah, where a rise in MERS infections among medical staff sparked panic among the public.

Most cases of the disease have been in Saudi Arabia, but the virus has been imported to more than a dozen other countries.

[with AFP]
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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