Middle East

Saudi records 11 cases of MERS virus in Jeddah

A Saudi man leaves the emergency department at a hospital in the center of the Saudi capital Riyadh on April 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had recorded 11 cases infected with the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in Jeddah,including hospital staff.

Two of the patients died, six have recovered, while threeare undergoing treatment, the official Saudi Press Agencyreported quoting the Jeddah health authority.

The emergency department of King Fahd hospital in Jeddah wasclosed for disinfection after one health worker there testedpositive for the virus and subsequent tests on other staffmembers showed further infections.

Some patients were transferred to other hospitals while thedisinfection was carried out, the health authority said.

A nurse at King Abdel Aziz hospital had earlier testedpositive for the virus but no other workers in that hospitalwere infected.

The health authority assured the public that no otherhospitals in Jeddah had recorded any cases and denied rumoursthat more than two deaths had occurred.

MERS emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and is from the samefamily as the SARS virus. It can cause coughing, fever andpneumonia.

Although the worldwide number of MERS infections is fairlysmall, the more than 40 percent death rate among confirmed casesand the spread of the virus beyond the Middle East is keepingscientists and public health officials on alert.

Cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait,Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Tunisia as well as inseveral countries in Europe, and scientists are increasinglyfocused on a link between the human infections and camels as apossible "animal reservoir" of the virus.





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