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Two expats in Saudi critical after being infected with MERS virus

Two expats in Saudi critical after being infected with MERS virus

The two men are among six others infected with the virus in the last week

Two expatriates in Saudi Arabia are currently in a critical condition after being infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, local media reported.

The two men – aged 27 and 48 years old in Jubail and Jeddah respectively – are among six others infected with the virus in the last week, Arab News reported.

The four other patients, including two women, are from Turbah, Taif, Riyadh and Al-Qararah.

In a briefing on January 26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that nine new MERS cases had been reported by Saudi Arabia between January 2-7, including two fatal cases.

The two deceased were both women from Buridah, one aged 88 and another aged 63.

Overall, five cases were reported from Buridah and were part of a small health care setting outbreak involving 2 hospitals, the WHO said.

A Saudi Ministry of Health rapid response team has been dispatched and measures to prevent further cases including contact tracing, and strengthening of infection, prevention and control have been put in place, the report added. None of the cases reported are health care workers.

Globally, since September 2012, 1,888 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV including at least 670 related deaths have been reported to WHO.

Several of those cases have been registered in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has replaced its health ministers twice since the outbreak of the disease in 2012. Health authorities in the kingdom have also urged residents to refrain from consuming raw camel meat or milk over fears of the disease spreading.

The virus is known to be contracted through exposure to infected individuals, from hospitals and by direct contact with camels – believed to be carriers of the virus.

MERS, a virus similar to SARS, is a respiratory disease that causes coughing, fever and breathing problems, and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

WHO said it expects that “additional cases of MERS infection will be reported from the Middle East, and that cases will continue to be exported to other countries by individuals who might acquire the infection after exposure to animals or animal products or human sources”.

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