Lebanon registers first case of MERS – health ministry

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Lebanon has registered the first case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, but the person who contracted it was released after showing signs of recovery, the health ministry said Thursday, according to AFP.

The news came as Saudi Arabia, the country worst hit by the disease, announced four more deaths, bringing the toll to 121 since its first appearance there in September 2012.

“On Thursday afternoon, a patient who had been in hospital was diagnosed as being a carrier” of the virus, the ministry said, adding that the patient left the hospital after treatment “led to a significant improvement in his health.”

The ministry said “citizens have no cause for panic. They should take normal precautions to prevent respiratory diseases.

“It added that it was carrying out studies to “assure itself that there no epidemic in Lebanon” and urged doctors and hospitals to “take maximum precautions and inform the ministry of any suspect cases.”

Many Lebanese work in the Gulf, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

In humans, MERS causes coughing, fever and pneumonia. Cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.

Egypt warns against travel to Saudi Arabia due to MERS virus

Egypt’s Health Ministry issued a warning on Friday against children, elderly people and anyone suffering from chronic heart and chest diseases travelling to Saudi Arabia due to an outbreak there of a deadly new virus. Saudi Arabia said on Thursday the number of cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), an often fatal disease caused by a coronavirus, had nearly doubled in April, with 26 more infections reported on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Of the more than 370 people who caught the disease in Saudi Arabia, 107 have died since MERS first emerged two years ago.

The first case of the disease in Egypt was reported on Saturday – a 27-year-old man who lives in Saudi Arabia but returned ill to Egypt last week after having been in contact with an uncle in the kingdom who died of MERS.

International concern about the disease is acute because Saudi Arabia is expected to receive large numbers of foreign pilgrims during the fasting month of Ramadan in July, followed by millions more for Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage in October.

In a statement, Egypt’s health ministry said that anyone under the age of 15 or older than 65, as well as pregnant women and people suffering from chronic heart and chest diseases, should postpone pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.

It said no further MERS cases had been confirmed in Egypt. The man who contracted the virus is in a stable condition in a hospital in Cairo, a health ministry official told Reuters.

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