MERS Death Toll in Saudi Arabia hits 400

2015-0304 MERS Death Toll in Saudi Arabia hits 400

Four more people have died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-Cov), raising the total in the Kingdom to 400, the Ministry of Health’s Command and Control Center said Monday.

All the victims were male, and three of them, all Saudis aged 91, 89 and 60, were from Riyadh. The fourth victim was a 45-year-old foreign worker in the central city of Buraidah, said the MOH in a daily bulletin posted on its website.

The bulletin said all four fatalities had pre-existing diseases prior to catching the coronavirus. Most other MERS deaths have pre-existing diseases, MOH records show.

Four new infections were also reported on Monday, bringing the total number of MERS-CoV cases in the Kingdom to 931 since June 2012.

All the new cases were reported in Riyadh. Three were Saudis — a 61-year-old woman, a 63-year-old man and another male aged 53 — and the fourth was a male expatriate worker aged 57. Two of the cases were listed to be in “critical” condition.

Last month, Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Saeed, who heads the center coordinating the ministry’s response to MERS, warned that a rise in cases typically occurs around this time of year, when there are more juvenile camels circulating.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has cited the preliminary results of studies indicating that people working with camels are at increased risk of infection from MERS-CoV, and young camels are particularly susceptible.

But representatives of the WHO and other UN agencies who concluded a visit to the kingdom this week said there was an urgent need for greater understanding of the “animal/human interface”.

“There are so many aspects of the virus that are still unknown,” said Berhe Tekola, of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The mission urged “improving disease prevention, especially in health facilities that continue to experience avoidable infections”.

Saudi Arabia has implemented a public education campaign about MERS but the statement said “efforts to educate professionals and the public are urgently needed.”

More than 20 countries have been affected by the virus but most cases have been linked to the Middle East.


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