Two new MERS cases confirmed in Saudi Arabia

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(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday it has been informed of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.

The first case is a 51-year-old female from Saudi Arabia, living in Jawf province who has been transferred to Riyadh for treatment in an intensive care unit, WHO said in a statement.

It added that she has had no reported contact with animals and epidemiological investigation is ongoing.

The second case is a 26-year-old female who is a non-Saudi healthcare worker in Riyadh. She had reported contact with a 37-year-old male laboratory confirmed case that was reported to WHO on November 21.

Globally, WHO has been informed of a total of 165 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 71 deaths.

Health care providers are being advised by WHO to maintain vigilance. Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV, it said.

On Tuesday, it was reported that the MERS coronovirus was discovered in three camels on a farm in Qatar.

Previous studies into the coronavirus, of which the majority of victims have been in Saudi Arabia, have supported a theory that camels are spreading the pathogen.

Researchers from Qatar and the Netherlands wrote in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal that the infected dromedary camels were from a barn about 19 miles outside of the Gulf state’s capital Doha.

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