MERS Virus: 26 New Cases, 10 Deaths in Saudi Arabia

Officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirmed on Sunday that medical authorities have 26 new cases of MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which has killed close to a third of the people infected with the deadly virus. Authorities on Sunday said another 10 more people had died from the virus.

The confirmation by Saudi officials followed an announcement by Egypt on Saturday that the country’s first confirmed MERS case was found in a man who recently returned to Egypt from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia where he had been working.

MERS was first discovered nearly two years ago in Saudi Arabia, which remains the nation most affected. Medical authorities in the Kingdom said the country has confirmed 339 cases of MERS, with 102 deaths.

Since the beginning of April, there have been 143 cases confirmed, which is a jump of 73% in total infections this month in Saudi Arabia.

The latest cases were released to the public in two official statements published Saturday and Sunday on the website of the Health Ministry.

The 10 cases confirmed Saturday included 7 in the city of Jeddah, the focal point of the most recent outbreak, two in Riyadh and one in the city of Mecca. Two of the patients with MERS died Saturday.

The other 16 remaining cases were confirmed Sunday and included eight in Jeddah, six in Tabuk a city to the north and two more in Riyadh. Eight sufferers of MERS died Sunday said officials.

Adeli Fakieh, the acting Minister of Health said Saturday he designated hospitals in Jeddah, Riyadh and in the Gulf Coast city of Dammam as special MERS treatment centers.

The three medical centers can hold up to 146 patients in their intensive care units.

A number of Saudis of late have voiced their concerns on the Internet through social media about the handling by the government of the MERS outbreak. Last week the health minister was sacked by King Abdullah.

In the city of Jeddah, some residents are wearing paper facemasks and not attending public gathering. At the same time, pharmacies are saying sales of hand sanitizers along with other products for hygiene are spiking.

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