Via The National: Emirati man who contracted Mers coronavirus dies in UAE. Excerpt and then a comment:
An Emirati man who contracted the Mers coronavirus has died and his wife has the deadly disease, the World Health Organisation has confirmed.
The man, 68, was taken to hospital in Dubai last month after showing symptoms of the virus.
The WHO confirmed the patient, who suffered from diabetes and chronic kidney failure, died on December 22.
It said four days after his death, it was told his wife, 59, from Sharjah, had also been infected with the coronavirus.
She is reported to have no symptoms, no history of contact with animals and no recent travel history, and is in hospital under isolation, the WHO said.
I mentioned this case yesterday, and this report makes me wonder just how many asymptomatic MERS cases there might be. A couple of the latest Saudi cases are asymptomatic healthcare workers. Now we have the widow of another case; whether she contracted the disease from her unfortunate husband, or they both contracted it from an unknown source, we don't know.
In Andrew Rambaut's invaluable table of MERS cases, I count 23 asymptomatic cases out of 197. That 11.6%, almost one in nine. Presumably those tested have been known or possible contacts of confirmed cases.
But what if MERS is far more widespread, and only the immune-weakened cases actually fall ill? We still wouldn't know the origin, but asymptomatic virus shedders could be infecting many others—and only a few susceptible people would succumb to it. Only a campaign of widespread, expensive and tedious testing could validate that hypothesis.
This is pure speculation, and I'd be grateful to be corrected by someone knowledgeable.