Saudis probe Buraydah MERS cluster, tally 13 new cases

Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) officials confirmed 13 new MERS-CoV cases in the past 3 days, 9 of them in Buraydah, where the ministry is investigating a hospital cluster.

The MOH announced 4 MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases on Mar 5, 1 yesterday, and 8 today. Three of the cases on Mar 5 and 6 cases cited today were in Buraydah, where officials have established a command center to combat the virus.

Four of the new cases involve healthcare workers (HCWs), and three patients had recent contact with camels, a known risk factor.

New cases in 5 areas

In addition to the six Buraydah cases confirmed today, the MOH noted one case each in Ar Rass, which is in the same province (Al-Qassim), and Al Zulfi, which is southeast of Buraydah in Riyadh province.

The MERS patient in Ar Rass is a 68-year-old Saudi man who had contact with camels. The case in Al Zulfi involves a 68-year-old Saudi woman whose case is also listed as "primary"—meaning not contracted from a known patient—but the MOH did not specify contact with camels. Neither patient is an HCW.

The cases in Buraydah include two in foreign male HCWs, age 62 and 36. Their infections were both contracted in healthcare settings, the MOH said. Two patients also contracted the disease in a hospital, a 76-year-old Saudi man and an 81-year-old Saudi man who is the only patient today listed in critical condition, with the rest being in stable condition.

A 42-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman round out the latest Buraydah cases. He had contact with camels, while the source of infection for the woman is still under investigation. These patients are not HCWs and are both Saudi Arabian.

Yesterday the MOH confirmed MERS-CoV in a 49-year-old male Saudi HCW in Riyadh whose case is listed as primary. He had contact with camels and is in stable condition.

On Mar 5 the MOH noted that a 49-year-old male expatriate HCW was infected with MERS-CoV. He is in stable condition.

The agency also listed three cases in Saudi men in Buraydah, aged 23, 82, and 70, with the former two in critical condition and the latter listed as stable. None are HCWs, and the sources of infection for all four cases confirmed on Mar 5 are under investigation.

MOH directs response in Buraydah

The MOH has warned people in Al-Qassim to be wary of MERS-CoV because of the recent cases as it investigates the cluster there, Arab News reported today. The agency also set up a central command and control center in Buraydah, the story said.

The center will coordinate among area hospitals and transfer patients to facilities convenient to them, the MOH said.

The agency has confirmed 26 MERs cases in the last 2 weeks, including 11 in Buraydah. The MOH has reported 1,326 cases since the outbreak began in Saudi Arabia in 2012, including 559 deaths.

See also:

Mar 7 MOH update

Mar 6 MOH update

Mar 5 MOH update

Mar 7 Arab News story

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