Sixteen people in the UAE have now been diagnosed with the potentially fatal MERS coronavirus, a figure confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). All had had contact with Filipino paramedic Abundio Verzosa Esporlas, who died of the illness at Al Ain’s Al Jimi Hospital on 10 April.
The news comes as Greece’s Ministry of Health reported its first case of MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
A 69-year-old Greek man living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was diagnosed with the virus soon after he returned to his home country.
While in the Kingdom, he developed a fever and diarrhoea and visited hospital on 8 and 10 April, where it was first thought he was suffering from typhoid fever. His wife had been treated for the illness in the same hospital from 31 March to 5 April and he’d visited her regularly during her stay, the WHO said last night.
The man flew home to Greece last Thursday, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and MERS – the first case ever seen in the country. He’s now in a stable condition in hospital.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, the WHO has been informed of a total of 250 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS, including 93 deaths.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses including strains responsible for a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to SARS. Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a newly identified strain of coronavirus which has caused the deaths of 93 people worldwide since it was first identified in 2012. A further 243 people globally have been diagnosed with the disease.
The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi said the current situation is “not a public health concern”, adding that it’s working with the UAE’s Ministry of Health and the WHO to minimise risks of the disease spreading.