Deadly corona virus has re-emerged in Saudi Arabia, causing death of at least one patient.


On Wednesday, May 8, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the April outbreak of a coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Four new infections of the coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) have emerged in Saudi Arabia, according to health officials. At least one of those cases resulted in death.

Because at least two of the MERS-CoV infections involved human-to-human transmission, some researchers are concerned that the outbreak could lead to a new pandemic. Despite these fears, WHO still considers the overall risk posed by MERS as “moderate” regionally and globally. That's because three of the four confirmed cases were confined to a single hospital in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh. The last infection occurred in the city of Taif and involved a patient who had contact with camels. That infection is not believed to be directly linked to the other three.

“All three cases are epidemiologically linked to exposure at a health care facility in Riyadh, although investigations are ongoing to verify this and understand the route of transmission,” WHO said.

In one case that resulted in death, WHO reports that the patient was a 56-year-old male school teacher who complained of cough, runny nose, fever and body aches on March 29. He was admitted to an emergency room in Riyadh. Hospital on April 4, and two days later was transferred to intensive care unit isolation and intubated. He had pre-existing health conditions that may have contributed to his death, including high blood pressure and chronic kidney failure requiring hemodialysis. It is unclear how he initially came into contact with MERS-CoV.

MERS first came to light in 2012 and since then it has been responsible for about 940 deaths out of 2,500 cases, giving it a case fatality rate of 36%. There is currently no vaccine for this virus.

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