Saudi announces 11 new MERS infections (Update)

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced 11 new cases of MERS, including a 13-year-old child, as its acting health minister vowed to keep the public better informed about the coronavirus.

The new cases bring to 272 the total number of MERS infections, including 81 deaths, registered across the kingdom—worst hit by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome which was first detected in eastern Saudi Arabia in September 2012.

Most of the latest cases are in Riyadh and the commercial hub Jeddah, with one case in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, visited each year by millions of pilgrims from around the world.

Three of the new infections were of health workers, while a 13-year-old Saudi girl is among cases recorded in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

A spike in MERS cases and public fears prompted the Gulf state to dismiss its health minister, Abdullah al-Rabiah, on Monday without an official explanation.

Rabiah last week visited hospitals in Jeddah to calm a public hit by panic over the spread of the virus among medical staff that triggered the temporary closure of the city's King Fahd Hospital emergency room.

Labour Minister Adel Fakieh, who has taken over as acting health minister, said on Twitter late Tuesday that he had visited the Jeddah hospital.

Fakieh promised "transparency and to promptly provide the media and society with the information needed" on the virus.

At least four doctors at King Fahd Hospital reportedly resigned last week after refusing to treat MERS patients.

The virus is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus which erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

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

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

The World Health Organisation said it had been informed of 253 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection worldwide, of which 93 had been fatal.

The WHO in a statement issued in Cairo on Wednesday expressed concern about the rising number of cases, especially in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Its Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office said it has offered to help Saudi Arabia and the UAE investigate the current outbreaks "in order to determine the transmission chain of this recent cluster".

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Saudi health minister sacked as MERS toll rises

Apr 21, 2014

Saudi Arabia dismissed its health minister on Monday just days after he visited a hospital at the centre of growing concerns about the kingdom's handling of the MERS virus.

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

Apr 20, 2014

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

Apr 18, 2014

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi, 8 infected

Apr 13, 2014

A foreigner has died from MERS while eight people including five health workers have been infected in the Saudi city of Jeddah, where the spread of the coronavirus among medics has sparked panic.

Recommended for you

Africans in New York complain of Ebola stigma

3 hours ago

Members of the west African community in New York complained Wednesday that their children were being bullied at school and businesses were losing money because of hysteria over Ebola.

Ebola expert says China at risk, seeks Japan aid

3 hours ago

A scientist who helped to discover the Ebola virus says he is concerned that the disease could spread to China given the large numbers of Chinese workers traveling to and from Africa.

Study: Young people more likely to survive Ebola

15 hours ago

A new study gives fresh knowledge about who survives Ebola and why. The report by 47 health workers treating patients in Sierra Leone in West Africa is the most detailed description yet of the medical aspects of the current ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.