Five new MERS cases in Saudi Arabia’s Hofuf, Turabah

Some 568 cases out of 1,031 confirmed cases were cured. (Photo courtesy: shutterstock)

The Saudi Ministry of Health recorded five confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus during the past six days in Hofuf and Turabah, the ministry said in statement on Sunday.

Labs examined 879 samples last week. Some 568 cases out of 1,031 confirmed cases were cured.

The Rapid Response Team made six visits to fight infection at health facilities.

The ministry said it is coordinating with the Ministry of Agriculture to carry out awareness campaigns on coronavirus.

A delegation from the Saudi Health Ministry is expected to travel to South Korea which reported on Sunday its 15th death from the MERS virus as the growing outbreak that has now infected 145 forced one of the nation’s biggest hospitals to suspend most services.

A spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare told local daily Korea Times, Saudi Arabia would assist in its fight against the virus.

“A team of infectious disease experts from the Saudi Ministry of Health will arrive in Korea to exchange experiences and knowledge about the deadly virus,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.

The latest fatality from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in South Korea was a 62-year-old man who died Sunday afternoon in the southern port city of Busan, the city council said.

He was diagnosed on June 7 after being infected in Seoul’s Samsung Medical Centre — a major hospital and the epicentre of more than 70 cases.

The Health Ministry Sunday also confirmed seven new cases of the virus, including four from the Samsung hospital, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 145.

Among the seven is a paramedic who helped take a MERS patient to the hospital on June 7. On Saturday authorities announced that the ambulance driver also involved in transporting the patient — who died three days later — had contracted the virus.

One of the other new patients was infected in the central city of Daejeon and another in Hwaseong, 43 kms (27 miles) south of Seoul. There is no vaccine or cure for MERS which, according to World Health Organization data, has a fatality rate of around 35 percent.

The outbreak in South Korea — the largest outside Saudi Arabia — began when a 68-year-old man was diagnosed on May 20 after a trip to Saudi Arabia. The virus has since been spreading at an unusually fast pace, sparking widespread alarm in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Businesses including shopping malls and restaurants have reported a sharp drop in sales as people shun public venues with large crowds.

About 100,000 foreign travellers have cancelled trips to South Korea since the beginning of this month.

A team of WHO experts who visited Seoul warned that the outbreak was “large and complex” and more cases should be expected.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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