Saudi Arabia Reports Two More MERS-CoV Deaths

Saudi Arabia has reported two additional laboratory-confirmed cases and two deaths in previously confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in the country, according to the World Heath Organization (WHO).

WHO said the two new cases of MERS-CoV infections were that of two males aged 66 and 69 reported from capital Riyadh. Both were admitted to hospital on June 28 and were in critical condition.

The U.N. health agency said the two deaths in previously confirmed cases were that of a 63-year-old female from Riyadh and a 75-year-old male from Al Ahsa. WHO has now been informed of a total of 79 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infections globally, including 42 deaths.

Based on the current situation and available information, WHO urged all Member-States to continue their surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns.

It insists that recent travelers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV, and specimens from patients' lower respiratory tracts should be obtained for diagnosis wherever possible.

Reminding healthcare facilities of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control, WHO urged them to decrease the risk of transmission of MERS-CoV virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors.

"All Member-States are reminded to promptly assess and notify WHO of any new case of infection with MERS-CoV, along with information about potential exposures that may have resulted in infection and a description of the clinical course. Investigation into the source of exposure should promptly be initiated to identify the mode of exposure, so that further transmission of the virus can be prevented," it added.

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.

Incidentally, the deadly Novel Coronavirus (NCoV) strain responsible for the current outbreak was recently renamed as MERS-CoV, reflecting the fact that most of the reported cases are in that region, mainly in Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, France, Germany, Italy, 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.

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