Saudis report 5 MERS cases; WHO sees no change in pattern

The stream of MERS-CoV cases in Saudi Arabia is continuing. with five more in the past 2 days, including two deaths, but the World Health Organization (WHO) says it is seeing no change in the epidemiologic pattern of the disease.

The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) reported three cases yesterday and two more today, after listing none on Mar 28. The cases involved four Saudis and one expatriate, who is the only healthcare worker.

The three MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases reported yesterday involved Saudi men, ages 39, 54, and 80, in Hofuf, Khafji, and Tayma, respectively. The two older men, who had preexisting diseases, died, while the younger one is in critical condition, the MOH said.

The ministry said none of the men had contact with other MERS patients in the community, but it provided no further exposure information, saying more information would be included in the next weekly MERS update.

The two cases reported today are both in Jeddah. One patient is a 63-year-old foreign healthcare worker in stable condition; the other is 60-year-old Saudi listed in critical condition. The health worker had contact with other cases in a hospital or the community, but the other did not. No information on animal exposure was provided.

The latest cases raised the MOH's MERS count to 972, with 421 deaths, 531 patients recovered, and 20 still in treatment or home isolation.

WHO sees little change

Meanwhile, the WHO's Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean published a MERS-CoV situation update that says the epidemiologic and demographic features of the disease have not changed significantly. The update consists of a set of graphs and tables with a list of highlights.

The report is dated Mar 31 (tomorrow) and includes 967 Saudi Arabian cases, which was the MOH number on Mar 27. Of those, 145 cases, with 58 deaths, were reported this year, for a case-fatality rate of 40%. The disease continues to affect mainly men, with 50- to 59-year-olds hardest hit.

"Nosocomial outbreaks in hospitals, though smaller in size and risk, as compared to the past, have been reported from Riyadh, Qassem [Qassim], Al-Jouf [Al Jawf], and Eastern regions," the update says. It adds that nosocomial infections among health workers have continued to decline since the last big hospital outbreak in Jeddah in 2014.

Saudi Arabia's MERS total for January and February of this year is 114 cases, 12% of which were in health workers, the update says. That compares with 21 cases in the same months last year, with 5% in health workers.

Of the 114 cases, 13% were primary (ie, with no link to another known case), 35% were secondary (with a link to a known case), and 51% had an unknown contact history.

See also:

Mar 29 MOH statement

Mar 30 MOH statement

Mar 31 WHO situation update

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