Pace of new MERS infections in Saudi
Arabia slows to four a day
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[May 27, 2014]
RIYADH (Reuters) - The rate of
infection of a deadly virus in Saudi Arabia has slowed since mid May and
Monday was the first day free of new cases in six weeks, figures
released by the kingdom's Health Ministry showed.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was
discovered in Saudi Arabia two years ago and has since infected 562
people in the kingdom, killing 179 of them. It can cause flu-like
symptoms, pneumonia and organ failure in some.
A surge in new cases in April prompted King Abdullah to sack the
health minister and led to criticism of infection control procedures
in many Saudi hospitals. There were also concerns the government was
not taking seriously MERS's link to camels.
Cases have also been discovered in other countries, including the
United States, Britain and France and, most recently, in Iran. Most
of these cases are linked to people who have recently visited Gulf
In the first two weeks of the month, the daily number of new cases
in Saudi Arabia averaged nearly 11, but since May 14 the average
number of new confirmed infections has been a little over four a
day, the figures show.
Late on Monday the ministry reported its first day free of new
confirmed infections since April 13.
The number of new patients had soared across Saudi Arabia, with the
total number of confirmed cases jumping to 511 on May 14 from the
173 confirmed in laboratories at the end of March.
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International scientists have also complained that Saudi authorities
have not done enough to work with them on investigating the disease,
something the kingdom's Health Ministry denies.
(Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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