6 Filipino nurses in Saudi infected with MERS coronavirus

Posted at 04/29/2014 7:52 PM | Updated as of 04/29/2014 10:27 PM

MANILA - Six Filipino nurses, 5 of them women, have been infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health said.

Four of the nurses were working at the Prince Fahad bin Sultan Private Hospital in Tabuk. The four, who tested positive for MERS-CoV, have yet to developed any symptoms, the ministry said.

In Jeddah, a 42-year-old Filipina female nurse developed respiratory symptoms on April 20 and was admitted to a military hospital two days later. "Her health status is stable," the ministry said.

Another case is a 54-year-old Filipina female nurse working at King Fahad Hospital. "She developed respiratory symptoms on 24th April, 2014. Now, her health status is stable," the ministry added.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday confirmed 26 more cases of MERS, which has killed nearly a third of sufferers, and said 10 more people have died from the disease.

Saudi Arabia, where MERS was discovered around two years ago and which remains the country most affected, has now had 339 confirmed cases of MERS, of which 102 have been fatal.

The 143 cases announced since the start of April represent a 73 percent jump in total infections in Saudi Arabia this month.

The new cases were announced in two statements published on the Health Ministry website on Saturday and Sunday.

The 10 confirmed on Saturday included seven in Jeddah, the focal point for the recent outbreak, two in the capital Riyadh and another in Mecca. Two MERS patients died.

The 16 further cases confirmed on Sunday included two in Riyadh, eight in Jeddah and another six in the northern city of Tabuk. Eight MERS sufferers died on Sunday.

The acting health minister, Adel Fakieh, said on Saturday he had designated three hospitals in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam on the Gulf coast as specialist centers for MERS treatment.

Many Saudis have voiced concerns on social media about government handling of the outbreak, and last week King Abdullah sacked the health minister.

In Jeddah, some people are wearing facemasks and avoiding public gatherings, while pharmacies say sales of hand sanitisers and other hygiene products are soaring. - with a report from Reuters