The United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia has informed it of four new laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the country.
According to the UN health agency, three of the four patients were males aged 45, 57 and 85. The fourth patient is 38-year-old woman from Riyadh city. While three of the patients are currently in a stable condition, the fourth one remains critical.
From September 2012 to date, the WHO has been informed of a total of 707 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV globally, including 252 deaths.
The WHO has urged all Member-States to continue surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) and carefully review any unusual patterns. WHO stressed that recent travelers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause a range of ailments from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which became an epidemic in 2003. The virus could be transmitted between people in close and prolonged contact. The sources of infection for the new coronavirus are still unclear.
The deadly Novel Coronavirus (NCoV) strain, recently renamed MERS-CoV, reflects the fact that most of the reported cases are from that region, mainly Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, countries like France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, the Netherlands, Tunisia and the United Kingdom have also reported laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infections. Those patients were either transferred there for care of the disease or returned from the Middle East and subsequently became ill.
by RTT Staff Writer
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