Saudi Arabia reports 2 more MERS cases

Reflection of downtown Riyadh in The Globe at the top of the Faisaliah Center
Reflection of downtown Riyadh and desert in The Globe at the top of the Faisaliah Center

One of the new MERS cases is in Riyadh, whose downtown is reflected in a globe at the top of the Faisaliah Center., SweetMango / iStock

Saudi Arabia reported two new MERS-CoV cases today, marking the first time the government has cited more than one case since Jun 9.

Also today, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed and supplied some new details on two MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases that were reported by the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) last week.

Cases in Riyadh, Jeddah

The two new cases involve a 46-year-old male expatriate who is hospitalized in Riyadh and a 57-year-old Saudi man hospitalized in Jeddah, the MOH said in today's update. Neither man is a healthcare worker, and only the younger one has a preexisting condition. As usual, the statement gave no information on how the patients were exposed to the virus.

The infections raised Saudi Arabia's MERS count to 710 cases with 292 deaths, the MOH said. Forty patients are still receiving treatment.

The two new cases bring the number reported by Saudi Arabia in the past week to six (although the link for a case reported Jun 20 has disappeared from the MOH coronavirus Web site).

The last time the MOH reported two new cases was Jun 9, and the last report of more than two was on Jun 6, when there were four. The current slow pace contrasts sharply with the pattern in April and early May, when hospital-based outbreaks sparked hundreds of cases in a few weeks.

The MOH reported no new cases yesterday but noted a death in a previously announced case, that of a 36-year-old male expatriate in Al Baha.

WHO update

The two cases confirmed by the WHO today involve a 42-year-old man who died on Jun 18 and a 58-year-old who is in stable condition. The agency said it was informed of the cases on Jun 17.

The younger man was a Jeddah resident who was hospitalized in the city for "a medical condition" from May 26 to Jun 4, the WHO said. On Jun 13 he experienced respiratory symptoms, was found to have pneumonia, and was readmitted to the hospital. MERS-CoV was confirmed on Jun 16, 2 days before the man died.

How the patient was exposed to the virus is unclear, the WHO said. Preliminary investigation showed that there were no MERS patients in the hospital ward where the man was initially treated, and he had no reported exposure to other MERS patients or to animals and no recent travel history.

The WHO description matched up with a case announced by the MOH on Jun 17, except that the MOH said the man was from Mecca.

The 58-year-old, a Riyadh resident, got sick on Jun 4, was hospitalized on Jun 12, and tested positive for MERS-CoV on the 15th, according to the WHO. He had traveled to Mecca to perform Umrah on May 31 and from there to Egypt on Jun 3, returning to Riyadh on the 9th.

The patient is reported to have had no contact with other MERS patients or animals, the agency said. The WHO description matches a case reported by the MOH on Jun 15.

See also:

Jun 25 Saudi MOH statement

Jun 25 WHO statement

Jun 24 Saudi MOH statement

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