MERS fears prompt ER closure at Saudi hospital (Update)

The main public hospital in the Saudi city of Jeddah has closed its emergency room after a rise in cases of the MERS virus among medical staff, the health ministry said Tuesday.

A Jeddah paramedic was among two more people Saudi health authorities reported on Sunday had died from the SARS-like disease, bringing the nationwide death toll to 66.

On Monday, the health ministry reported four more MERS cases in Jeddah, two of them among health workers, prompting authorities to close the emergency department at the city's King Fahd Hospital.

Patients were being transferred to other hospitals while the department was disinfected in a process expected to take 24 hours, the ministry said.

It reassured residents that the situation remained "stable" and "all precautionary measures are being taken to deal with the virus."

But the closure caused widespread public concern, fuelled by rumours on social networks.

"I'm afraid to send my children to school," said Jeddah resident Bassem Ben Ali, 33.

Jeddah accounts for just 11 of the 175 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported by Saudi authorities since the disease first appeared in the kingdom in September 2012.

Of those, two have died, six have recovered and three are still undergoing treatment.

The MERS virus 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.

Experts are still struggling to understand the disease, for which there is no known vaccine.

A study has said the virus has been "extraordinarily common" in camels for at least 20 years, and may have been passed directly from the animals to humans.

The World Health Organisation said at the end of March that it had been told of 206 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection worldwide, of which 86 had been fatal.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Saudi MERS death toll rises to 66

Apr 07, 2014

Saudi health authorities have reported the deaths of another two men from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the respiratory disease in the worst hit country to 66.

Saudi MERS death toll rises to 62

Mar 06, 2014

Saudi health authorities said Thursday a man has died from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the respiratory disease in the worst-hit country to 62.

MERS death toll reaches 61 in Saudi

Feb 23, 2014

Saudi health authorities announced on Sunday the death of an elderly woman from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the respiratory disease in the kingdom to 61.

Saudi MERS death toll rises to 63

Mar 15, 2014

Saudi health authorities said Saturday a young man had died from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the respiratory disease in the worst-hit country to 63.

Saudi records 60th MERS virus death

Feb 16, 2014

Saudi health authorities have announced the death of a young man from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the respiratory disease in the kingdom to 60.

Recommended for you

Photodynamic therapy vs. cryotherapy for actinic keratoses

8 minutes ago

Photodynamic therapy (PDT, which uses topical agents and light to kill tissue) appears to better clear actinic keratoses (AKs, a common skin lesion caused by sun damage) at three months after treatment than cryotherapy (which ...

US official warns Ebola outbreak will get worse

1 hour ago

A third top doctor has died from Ebola in Sierra Leone, a government official said Wednesday, as a leading American health official warned that the outbreak sweeping West Africa would get worse before it ...

UN releases $1.5mn to help DR Congo fight Ebola

3 hours ago

The United Nations on Wednesday allocated $1.5 million (1.1 million euros) to help the Democratic Republic of Congo fight Ebola, just days after the country confirmed its first cases this year.

'Junk' blood tests may offer life-saving information

5 hours ago

Some 30 percent of all positive hospital blood culture samples are discarded every day because they're "contaminated"—they reflect the presence of skin germs instead of specific disease-causing bacteria.

Drug represents first potential treatment for common anemia

6 hours ago

An experimental drug designed to help regulate the blood's iron supply shows promise as a viable first treatment for anemia of inflammation, according to results from the first human study of the treatment published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society o ...

User comments