Published — Sunday 19 May 2013
Last update 21 May 2013 6:23 am
JEDDAH: Yet another case of novel coronavirus infection in the Kingdom has been identified and the patient is an 81-year-old woman, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, quoting a report from the Saudi Ministry of Health.
In a statement posted on its website on May 18, 2013, the Geneva-based UN health agency said the patient has multiple coexisting medical conditions.
"She became ill on 28 April 2013 and is currently in critical but stable condition," said the statement.
"She was in the same health care facility previously identified as the focus of this outbreak, from 8 to 28 April 2013," it added.
The facility referred to had earlier been identified by health officials as a hospital in Hofuf town in Al-Ahsa.
"To date, a total of 22 patients including nine deaths, have been reported from this outbreak in the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia. The government is conducting ongoing investigation into the outbreak," said the WHO statement.
WHO said the latest discovery brings to 41 the total of number of laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with nCoV that it had received, including 20 deaths, since the new virus was identified by scientists in September 2012.
Of those infected in Saudi Arabia, two are health workers who caught the virus from patients in their care — the first evidence of such transmission within a hospital, the WHO earlier said.
And of the world total of 20 deaths, 15 were recorded in the Kingdom since September 2012.The novel coronavirus, which had been known as by the acronym nCoV but which some scientific journals now refer to as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or MERS, belongs to the same family as viruses that cause common colds and the one that caused a deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003.
Apart from Saudi Arabia, nCov cases were also found in France, Germany, Britain, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
"All of the European cases have had a direct or indirect connection to the Middle East, including two cases with recent travel history from the UAE.
"In France and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among close contacts who had not been to the Middle East but had been in contact with a traveler who recently returned from the Middle East," the WHO statement said.
Last week, the MOH announced that it had tapped experts on infectious diseases from the United States and Britain to help contain the spread of the new virus.
The MOH has posted on its website (www.moh.gov.sa) and on social media a number of medical tips and guidelines to the public to raise awareness of the new virus.
— Additional input from Reuters