WHO confirms 5 MERS cases, raising count to 144

The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed five more Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases in Saudi Arabia, including two deaths, with three of them dating back to Sep 18.

Also today, Arab News reported the death of a 54-year-old MERS patient in Jubail, on Saudi Arabia's Persian Gulf Coast. It was not clear if the man was one of the patients included in today's WHO update.

The WHO confirmations raise the agency's MERS-CoV tally to 144 cases with 62 deaths.

The agency offered few details on the cases, in keeping with previous statements reflecting sparse information from the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH). It said the patients ranged from 35 to 83 years old and included four men and one woman. Two are from Medina and three from Riyadh.

Four of the patients had underlying medical conditions, the WHO reported. Two of them reported having no contact with other confirmed case-patients or with animals before they got sick.

Today's Arab News story said the 54-year-old man who died was one of the case-patients reported by the MOH late last week. The MOH reported MERS-CoV in a 73-year-old man and a 54-year-old man, both from the Riyadh region and both with chronic diseases.

The Arab News story described the 54-year-old as a Jubail citizen, but also noted that the MOH had said the man came from Riyadh province. The man's case was the first recorded in Jubail, which is in the Eastern province, the story said.

It is difficult to match up the cases described by the WHO today with those reported recently by other sources, given the lack of details in the WHO statement, the lack of English-language MERS updates from the MOH, and the sparse information in recent machine-translated updates and media reports. The MOH has not posted any updates in English since late September.

See also:

Oct 24 WHO statement

Oct 24 Arab News story

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