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MERS kills foreigner in Saudi Arabia

Foreign man dies of deadly coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, as neighbouring Yemen reports its first case of the disease.

Last updated: 13 Apr 2014 10:13
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There have been 212 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection worldwide, of which 88 have proved fatal [Reuters]

A foreigner has died from the deadly MERS coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, while Yemen has reported its first case of the disease.

The foreign man, whose nationality has not been disclosed, died from the coronavirus as eight others in the kingdom, including five health workers in the city of Jeddah, were infected.

The death brings the nationwide toll in the world's most-affected country to 68, with 189 people infected.

The Saudi health ministry, which announced the death, said five health workers - two women and three men - and three other people had been infected by MERS in Jeddah.

The announcement came days after panic over the spread of the virus among medical staff led to the closure of the emergency room at the city's main public hospital.

Saudi health minister Abdullah al-Rabiah visited hospitals in Jeddah on Saturday in a bid to calm residents.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Yemen, a Yemeni man became the first victim of the disease, which had first appeared in Saudi Arabia in September, 2012.

"Medical personnel have recorded one case of the coronavirus in Sanaa and the victim is a Yemeni man who works as an aeronautics engineer," the semi-official al-Thawra newspaper quoted Public Health Minister Ahmed al-Ansi as saying. 

"The ministry is working in effective cooperation with the World Health Organisation to confront this virus and is in direct and constant communication with all hospitals to receive information on any other suspected cases," Ansi said.

The ministry is working in effective cooperation with the World Health Organisation to confront this virus 

Yemen Public Health Minister, Ahmed al-Ansi 

Deadly virus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday said that it had been told of 212 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection worldwide, of which 88 were fatal.

MERS is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

Experts are still struggling to understand MERS, for which there is no known vaccine.

A study has said the virus has been "extraordinarily common" in camels for at least 20 years, and may have been passed directly from the animals to humans.

The UAE news agency WAM said on Friday an expatriate health worker had died from the virus and five others had been infected in the Gulf state. This followed Saudi reports last week of two deaths and nine other cases of infection in the kingdom, including among hospital staff.

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