Saudi Arabia

Foreigner dies of Mers in Saudi Arabia, 8 infected

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The death of the 45-year-old man, whose nationality has not been disclosed, brings the nationwide toll in the world’s most-affected country to 68.

A foreigner has died from Mers while eight people including five health workers have been infected in the Saudi city of Jeddah, where the spread of the coronavirus among medics has sparked panic.

The death of the 45-year-old man, whose nationality has not been disclosed, brings the nationwide toll in the world’s most-affected country to 68.

The health ministry late Saturday announced the death of the man and said five health workers — two women and three men — and three other people had been infected by the virus in Jeddah.

The announcement came days after panic over the spread of the virus among medical staff led to the closure of the emergency room at the city’s main public hospital.

Health minister Abdullah Al Rabiah visited hospitals in Jeddah on Saturday in a bid to calm residents.

The total cases of infection by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which first appeared in the kingdom in September 2012, has hit 189, the ministry said.

The virus was initially concentrated in the eastern region but has now spread across more areas.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday that it had been told of 212 laboratory-confirmed cases of Mers infection worldwide, of which 88 have proved fatal.

The Mers virus is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine per cent of whom died.

Experts are still struggling to understand Mers, for which there is no known vaccine.

Mers no cause for concern in UAE: Expert

Head of the UAE’s Infection Control Committee says preventive measures are being taken aptly in the country.

It is just flu and preventive measures are being taken

Active surveillance is being done by the UAE authorities to ensure that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronvirus (Mers-cov) does not become a cause of concern, said an expert on infectious diseases.

“Despite the numbers of those infected recently was high (six), Mers is still not a cause for concern,” said Dr Ashraf El Houfi, Head of the UAE’s Infection Control Committee that monitors and reports infectious diseases in the country.

“It is just flu,” he said. “Preventive measures are being taken aptly in the country,” added Dr El Houfi. “The virus has a five-day shedding period during which the patient should be isolated. However, a suspected case is tested on the third and fifth day after which no isolation is required,” he said.

The doctor said that the severity of the cases depends on the underlying medical conditions of any patient. “It is just flu … mild for some and severe for others.”

“Those who come to the hospital are the ones who need surveillance,” he said, adding that the those infected were in millions in pandemics such as H1N1.

He advised people with flu to avoid crowded places and to wash hands regularly.

On Friday, a Filipino health worker died of the virus while five others were infected, according to the UAE’s Ministry of Interior.

There have been 220 laboratory confirmed cases of Mers from September 2012 till date, with 88 deaths, according to the latest WHO updates. Saudi Arabia recorded the most deaths, at 67.

Meanwhile, WHO, in its latest advisory, has asked people at high risk like those with diabetes, lung and kidney ailments to avoid “close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating.”

People visiting a farm or a barn should follow general hygiene procedures like regular hand-washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, it said.

The virus first emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and is from the same family as the SARS virus which was prevalent in South East Asia and China in the 1990s. Symptoms include coughing, fever and pneumonia.

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