Saudi Arabia confirms 3 new MERS cases

Map of Saudi Arabia
Map of Saudi Arabia

Marcio Silva / iStockphoto

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health reported three new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases today, while the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed five previously reported cases.

All three Saudi cases are from Jeddah, which has seen a spate of recent cases, according to a translated MOH statement on the Avian Flu Diary infectious disease blog. The patients are 29, 34, and 70 years old, but their genders are not provided. The oldest MERS patient is in intensive care, the MOH said, while the others are in stable condition.

The ministry also said that 217 samples tested during the latest testing period were negative for the virus.

The new cases bring the Saudi MERS-CoV count to 182, including 67 fatal cases.

Five WHO-confirmed cases

The WHO statement confirmed four cases that were reported by Saudi Arabia on Mar 28 and Apr 2 and one case that was reported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Mar 30. The agency said the Saudi cases involved:

  • A 26-year-old man from Jeddah who became ill on Mar 22, was hospitalized on Mar 23, and died on Apr 6
  • Another 26-year-old Jeddah man, who got sick on Mar 16 and has been hospitalized since Mar 25
  • A 77-year-old woman from the Riyadh region who became ill on Mar 25 and is currently in stable condition. She is not known to have a history of exposure to animals.
  • A 59-year-old man from the Riyadh region who fell ill on Mar 22. He is not known to have had contact with animals or a known case.

The UAE case involved a 64-year-old Abu Dhabi man who had underlying medical conditions, the WHO said. He fell ill on Mar 21, was hospitalized 4 days later, and died Mar 30.

He had no contact with other case-patients, but he had visited a camel farm in Harb, Saudi Arabia, on Mar 10, and he visited Nezwa, Oman, on Mar 20. Also, he owned a farm with poultry and sheep but had not visited it recently.

The five cases raised the WHO's MERS count to 211 cases, including 88 deaths. A number of other cases reported recently by governments have not yet been noted by the agency.

Health minister reassures

In other developments, Saudi Arabia's health minister, Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, issued a statement seeking to allay concerns sparked by 11 MERS cases recently reported in Jeddah, including some in healthcare workers.

"The number of Corona cases recorded is not different in Jeddah than all other regions of the Kingdom," Al-Rabeeah said. He said the incidence of cases there is still "low" and doesn't represent an epidemic by the criteria of the WHO and relevant scientific committees.

See also:

Apr 10 Avian Flu Diary post

Apr 10 WHO statement

MOH MERS-CoV page with case count

Apr 10 statement by Saudi minister of health

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