JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced yesterday five new deaths from MERS, raising the death toll in the country worst-hit by the mysterious coronavirus to 152 since it appeared in 2012.
The health ministry also reported four new infections with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome raising the total so far to 495. The new deaths occurred on Monday, four of them in Jeddah and one in Riyadh.
Acting Health Minister Adel Fakieh visited Jeddah’s King Fahd Hospital where a spike in infections last month sparked public panic.
In the United States, two health workers at a hospital in Orlando, Florida, who were exposed to a patient with the virus have begun showing flu-like symptoms, and one of the two has been hospitalised.
Officials at the Dr P Phillips Hospital said yesterday the two healthcare workers were exposed to the patient — the second confirmed case of MERS on US soil — in the emergency department before it became clear that he might be infected with the virus.
The second healthcare worker is being isolated in his home and watched for signs of infection.
Meanwhile, health and infectious disease experts met at the World Health Organisation yesterday to discuss whether the MERS virus now constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern”. In a statement issued late yesterday, the WHO said the experts’ discussions were continuing later than planned and that its Assistant Director General for Health Security, Keiji Fukuda, would hold a news conference today.