The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced six more Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases in Saudi Arabia, raising the agency's global count to 136 cases with 58 deaths.
The six cases involve three females and three males living in the Riyadh region and ranging in age from 14 to 79 years, the WHO said. The limited information in the statement appears to match up with the two latest case announcements from the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH).
The WHO said one of the patients has mild symptoms and the rest are hospitalized. Their illness-onset dates ranged from Sep 15 to 26.
Three patients had contact with previously confirmed MERS-CoV case-patients. Two others are reported to have had no contact with animals or other patients, and no exposure information was available for one patient, according to the WHO.
The latest MOH case announcement, on Oct 1, cited new cases in Riyadh residents aged 14, 45, and 79 years, according to a machine translation posted on FluTrackers, an infectious disease online message board. It indicated that all three had had contact with other MERS-CoV patients. The 14-year-old was said to be in stable condition, while the 45-year-old was receiving "intensive treatment."
The previous MOH case update came in an Arabic statement on Sep 27, followed by one in English on Sep 30. The English version reported an 87-year-old woman, a 53-year-old woman, and a 63-year-old man, all of them in hospital intensive care units and all having other diseases. However, the Arabic statement listed a 78-year-old woman instead of an 87-year-old.
The MOH's English-language coronavirus site currently lists Saudi Arabia's MERS count at 114 cases and 49 deaths. It does not appear to have been updated to include the three cases announced Oct 1.I'm grateful that Roos caught the mistaken age of the woman; that was part of the confusion of today's announcement. It's interesting that the KSA MOH evidently told WHO about onset dates; they weren't mentioned in the original statements.
The Saudis must have told WHO about the patients' genders as well, because they're not all specified in the original announcement. In the cases announced on September 27, 2 were women (aged 78 and 53) and one (63) was a man. In the October 1 announcement, we learn that one is 79, with underlying medical conditions; if "Mkhalt" does mean "male contact of a confirmed case," then this one is male. The same is true of the 45-year-old, so by elimination the 14-year-old must be the third female.
We learn that a lot of these cases are contacts of confirmed cases, but we don't learn much more than that: are these family clusters, health care workers, or both? And given all these clusters, are the Saudis doing anything special about infection control in their hospitals?
One more point: When we will get a clarification of the case/death count between WHO's 136/58 and ECDC's 139/60?