JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Monday 6 May 2013
Last update 12 May 2013 7:23 am
One of the last three reported victims of coronavirus infection in Al-Ahsa have died, the Ministry of Health said last night.
This brings to six the number of deaths in the eastern town due to the new respiratory virus in the last few days.
On Thursday, the health ministry said in a statement that five people have died and two other patients were in critical condition. It later added that three more cases were discovered, including one in intensive care.
Health officials have called for vigilance to prevent the infection from spreading, but said there is no need to panic.
The ministry said in a statement that it had informed the World Health Organization of the new cases of novel coronavirus.
Al-Ahsa's latest death brings the global death toll to 17. Since September 2012, WHO has been informed of 27 confirmed cases.
Health specialists have said the new germ is from a family of viruses that cause the common cold, as well as SARS — the severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a 2003 epidemic.
Health experts still aren’t sure how humans are being infected. The new coronavirus, which can cause acute pneumonia and kidney failure, is most closely related to a bat virus and scientists are considering whether bats or other animals like goats or camels are a possible source of infection.
The new virus was first identified last year in the Middle East and several of the people infected had all traveled to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Pakistan.
WHO says the virus is probably more widespread than just the Middle East and has advised countries to test any people with unexplained pneumonia. In Saudi Arabia last year, four members of the same family fell ill and two died.
The Saudi government is conducting an ongoing investigation into the outbreak.
The seven people who contracted the virus are not from the same family and there is no indication that any of them were in contact with animals or had traveled recently.
(With a report from AP)