TUNIS/JEDDAH: A 66-year-old Tunisian man has died from new coronavirus, a strain of a virus that emerged in the Middle East last year, after a visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Tunisian health ministry said on Tuesday.
Ministry spokesman Ibrahim Labassi said the man, a diabetic, died in hospital in the city of Monastir.
“Tests showed that his two children were infected by the same virus and they are under medical observation,” Labassi said.
Tunisia's three cases brings to 44 the total number of confirmed infections worldwide, and the global death toll to 22, since the coronavirus was first discovered by scientists in September 2012, according to official reports received by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Of the 22 deaths, 16 were in Saudi Arabia.
The novel coronavirus, also known by the acronym nCoV and 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, killing about 800 people, mostly in Asia.
In addition to Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, nCov or MERS cases have so far been reported in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Britain, Germany and France.
The latest death due to coronavirus in Saudi Arabia was confirmed on Monday by the Ministry of Health. In a statement, the MOH said the fatality was one of the patients being treated at a hospital in Al-Ahsa.
It said the victim was "suffering from chronic heart diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure, in addition to kidney failure."
Saudi Arabia remains the center for the new respiratory virus as investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) seek more clues about its origins and how it is spread.
Most of the infections in the kingdom were in Al-Ahsa and a few were reported in Jeddah and Riyadh, said the MOH.
The latest to be diagnosed in the kingdom with nCov was an 81-year-old woman, who taken ill on April 28, 2013 and is currently in critical but stable condition.
A WHO statement, quoting a Saudi MOH report, said the patient has multiple coexisting medical conditions.
— Additional input from Reuters/AP