Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Death Toll Increasing In Saudi Arabia

The rising number of fatalities from MERS infections in the Kingdom is causing alarm in the public.
The Health Ministry reported another fatality in Jeddah Wednesday, bringing the total number of MERS victims across the country to 71 from 205 infections. It said five more people were infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, including two medics, all in Jeddah. It identified the latest victim as a 52-year-old Saudi man.
The ministry said 35 percent of MERS patients in the Kingdom have died.
There were 37 confirmed cases in Jeddah in less than a month, including 21 medics.
Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah promised that he would press for special allowance for medics dealing with infectious diseases.
The MERS virus was initially concentrated in the Eastern Province but has now spread to other regions with 82 cases in Riyadh, 37 in Jeddah, 25 in Al-Ahsa, 23 in Dammam, 11 in Hafr Al-Baten, seven each in Asir and Madinah, five in Taif, two each in Al-Jouf and Qassim and one each in Najran and Bisha. Women accounted for one-third of the confirmed cases while expats represented 20 percent.
Dr. Mohammed Ali, an internist at Al-Abeer Medical Group, advised people to keep away from crowded areas and undergo medical tests in case of high fever and coughing. “It is advisable to use masks,” he told Arab News adding that people should observe hygiene and maintain cleanliness to avoid the virus.
The WHO said Friday it had been informed of 212 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection worldwide, of which 88 have proved fatal.
A Malaysian man who came on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia was the first to die from the disease in Asia while the Philippines has isolated a health worker who tested positive for the virus.
Malaysian authorities said the man returned to Malaysia on March 29 and developed a high fever and cough. He also had difficulty breathing a week or so later. The 54-year-old man, from southern Johor state, died on Sunday in a hospital, the ministry said Wednesday.
In the Philippines, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the Filipino health worker had tested positive for the virus but showed no symptoms.
The man was in contact with another Filipino hospital worker who died of the virus last week in the UAE.
Saudi Health Ministry officials are consulting WHO experts in Geneva and Cairo on how to contain the virus. WHO experts are also scheduled to meet in Riyadh later this month.