More Saudi MERS cases and deaths from Riyadh hot spot

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
By Paul Martin

Lisa Schnirring
CIDRAP News
Aug 04, 2015

Signaling what appears to be ongoing healthcare and community clusters of MERS-CoV infections in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s ministry of health (MOH) today reported four more cases, including three from the nation’s capital, one of them fatal.

The outbreaks in Riyadh come on the heels of similar clusters in Hofuf, a city located about 208 miles east of Riyadh. Those outbreaks involved at least two hospitals, and community clusters were reported as well.

Meanwhile, in fallout from South Korea’s hospital-linked Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak, the country’s president sacked the health minister. Since the virus emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012, problems tackling outbreaks there have also led to health ministry shake-ups.

Contact suspected in three new cases
According to the MOH, all three of the Riyadh patients are adults who had contact with a suspected or confirmed case-patient in the community or hospital setting, one of them a health worker. They include a 78-year-old man who died from his illness and an 86-year-old man who is in critical condition.

The third patient is a 31-year-old foreign woman who is a healthcare worker. She is listed in critical condition.

The fourth patient announced today by the MOH is also a health worker, a 50-year-old Saudi man from the city of Narjan, located in southern Saudi Arabia. He is hospitalized in stable condition. However, the ministry said he didn’t have any known contact with a confirmed or suspected case.

The MOH also reported four deaths from the disease in previously announced cases, all of them from Riyadh. All are men, with ages 32, 67, 75, and 78 years. The younger man is a foreigner, and he was the only one among the group who didn’t have an underlying medical condition.

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