Saudi Arabia reports 5 new MERS cases

Saudi Arabia reported 5 new MERS-CoV cases late last week, 3 of them in Buraydah, while the World Health Organization (WHO) provided new details on 6 recently confirmed cases, half from Buraydah and 4 linked to hospitals.

Buraydah has now had 26 MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases since Mar 3.

Buraydah cases under investigation

None of the newly reported MERS cases in Buraydah have been confirmed to be linked to a large hospital outbreak there, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) said in updates on Mar 18 and 19. One proved fatal.

The two Buraydah cases confirmed on Mar 18 involve Saudi men, ages 60 and 66, both in stable condition, the MOH said. The case noted on Mar 19 involves a 56-year-old Saudi woman who died. The source of infection for all three cases is under investigation.

The other cases confirmed on Mar 19 involve a 19-year-old foreign man in Al-Kharj and a 55-year-old foreign man in Ha'il. The former, in stable condition, had recent contact with a camel. The older man, who is hospitalized in critical condition, also has a "primary" infection, meaning he did not contract the disease from another patient. But no camel contact is specified.

None of the five new patients are healthcare workers, the MOH said.

The agency also said on Mar 18 that a 45-year-old man in Al-Kharj died from the disease. His case had been confirmed earlier. He is not a health worker and had preexisting disease.

The country has now had 1,351 MERS-CoV cases since the outbreak began in 2012, including 575 deaths, the MOH said.

WHO notes 3 infected hospital workers

The WHO report, meanwhile, includes details on three patients in Buraydah, all of whom work in the outbreak hospital, and on patients in Ha'il, Riyadh, and Al Makhwah.

The Buraydah patients are all foreign women, ages 25, 29, and 31. The 29-year-old works as a janitor in the outbreak hospital, while the occupations of the other two are not specified. The WHO said all the infections are asymptomatic, and the women are in home isolation. Epidemiologic investigation on possible links with other MERS-CoV cases for all three is ongoing.

They tested positive for MERS-CoV on either Mar 10 or Mar 11.

The case in Ha'il, meanwhile, involves a 48-year-old man who developed symptoms on Mar 8 and was hospitalized Mar 10. He is in stable condition.

The patient in Riyadh is a 74-year-old woman who became sick Mar 3 and was hospitalized on Mar 9. She is in critical condition. Both patients tested positive on Mar 11.

The final patient is an 83-year-old man from Al Makhwah who was hospitalized on Mar 6 for an unrelated condition. But while hospitalized he developed MERS-like symptoms on Mar 8 and tested positive for the virus on Mar 10. He is in stable condition, the WHO said.

All three of the non-Buraydah patients have underlying disease, the agency said.

The WHO has now confirmed 1,690 MERS cases, including at least 603 deaths.

See also:

Mar 18 MOH update

Mar 19 MOH update

Mar 18 WHO news release

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