Fifth MERS death in Saudi Arabia, as Egypt detects the virus for the first time

Fifth MERS death in Saudi Arabia, as Egypt detects the virus for the first time

Fifth MERS death in Saudi Arabia, as Egypt detects the virus for the first time

Asian workers wear mouth and nose masks while on duty during a football match at the King Fahad stadium, on April 22, 2014 in Riyadh. The health ministry reported more MERS cases in the city of Jeddah, prompting authorities to close the emergency department at the city's King Fahd Hospital. The ministry said it has registered 261 cases of infection across the kingdom since the discovery of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in September 2012. AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE

Saudi Arabia has announced five more patients who contracted a potentially fatal Middle East virus related to SARS have died in the kingdom, as Egypt has discovered the first case.

Saudi Arabia Health Ministry has said April 26 the deaths were among 14 new cases of the Middle East respiratory syndrome detected in the cities of Riyadh, Jiddah and the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

Two other deaths were recorded a day earlier as the kingdom releases near-daily reports of a rising number of infections.

The ministry says 92 people have died and 313 have contracted the virus in the kingdom since September 2012.

On April 21, King Abdullah fired the country’s health minister as officials struggle to alleviate public concerns amid a spike in recent infections.

Egypt has also discovered its first case of the novel coronavirus in a patient at a Cairo
hospital who recently arrived from Saudi Arabia, state TV said on April 26.

Saudi Arabia had reported April 24 four new deaths from MERS and 36 more cases of infection, including a 65-year-old Turkish pilgrim in Mecca, where millions of Muslims from around the world descend year-round. That’s raised concerns that the virus could spread among pilgrims.

Officials are struggling to alleviate concerns that the virus is spreading amid a spike in infections over the past several weeks. Many of the infections reported are health workers.

Prince Miteb, the son of ruler King Abdullah and the head of the Saudi National Guard, was quoted in newspapers April 24 saying that the king arrived in the eastern city of Jiddah sooner than usual in order to be with the people there, amid a rise in infections. The king traditionally spends his summers in Jiddah, where the seaside weather is cooler than in the capital.

"Every Saudi citizen is more valuable to the king than himself," the prince was quoted as saying in the state-backed al-Watan newspaper.

The Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, belongs to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses that include both the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed some 800 people in a global outbreak in 2003. MERS can cause symptoms such as fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, and it is still unclear how it is transmitted.