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Iran Press TV

New cases of MERS reported in Saudi capital

Iran Press TV

Aug 21, 2015 10:33AM

Saudi authorities have shut off the emergency ward of one of the country’s largest hospitals after new cases of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) emerged in the capital, Riyadh.

Saudi media quoted a Health Ministry official as saying that 46 new cases of MERS have been detected this week at a hospital located in Riyadh's King Abdulaziz Medical City.

The hospital has postponed all non-urgent operations and quarantined three wards for total isolation of new patients, as part of measures to contain the disease.

The fresh emergence of MERS has raised serious concerns in some circles, both inside the country and abroad, that the virus could become endemic, threatening the more than two million visitors expected next month for the annual hajj pilgrimage.

The rate of infections had declined last year after new procedures were put in place in the kingdom’s hospitals to isolate potential cases.

However, medical experts are already criticizing Saudi health officials for their negligence and lax sanitary standards, saying their response to the disease has been slow and inadequate.

MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, the death toll in the kingdom has risen to 485 out of 1,128 diagnosed cases until Thursday.

Outside the kingdom, South Korea reported 20 deaths from MERS.

Cases of MERS have also been reported recently in the Philippines, China and Thailand.

The MERS virus often causes breathing problems, fever, pneumonia and kidney failure in its victims.

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