RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reported Thursday four deaths and six new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The current surging number of cases is the largest since the peak of the last MERS outbreak in the summer of 2014.

According to the information released by the Command and Control Center of the Ministry of Health late Thursday, “the deadly MERS coronavirus has claimed four lives and infected six others in the Saudi capital.” 

The total death toll has now reached 502 in Saudi Arabia and the confirmed infections to 1,171 since the outbreak  of MERS in June 2012. The Ministry of Health said that the latest victim of the coronavirus include four Saudi citizens in Riyadh aged 75, 63, 58 and 87.

The six new confirmed cases are also all Saudi nationals again from the capital and out of six, four patients are stated to be critical. The condition of the other two is stable. The MoH has noted that, so far, 605 people have recovered from the coronavirus infection and there are 55 active cases receiving treatment at various hospitals in the Kingdom besides the nine cases of home isolation.

Arab News’ phone calls for more information about the growing number of deaths and infection were not answered by Khaled Al-Mirghalani, the MoH spokesman. But another MoH official, who refused to be identified, said that the ministry has geared itself well to control the spread of this deadly virus. “A number of hospitals have been equipped and designated for treatment of the MERS patients,” he said, while referring to the MoH’s medical contingency plan.

The MERS virus, which belongs to the family of viruses known as coronavirus, can cause symptoms such as fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. The MoH, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, has been exerting all possible efforts to check the spread of the virus, but have not succeeded so far. 

A similar outbreak of MERS in South Korea, however, has been more or less fully contained and controlled.

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