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Two new cases of MERS coronavirus registered

By Laila Azzeh - Aug 29,2015 - Last updated at Aug 29,2015

AMMAN — Two new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus-related infection have been registered in Jordan, raising the number of those infected with the disease since the start of the year to four, the Health Ministry said Saturday.

On Thursday a man in his sixties, who works in Saudi Arabia and recently entered the Kingdom, died after being diagnosed with MERS coronavirus, said Health Ministry Spokesperson Hatem Azruie.

“The man had been in critical condition. The three other cases are still being treated and two of them are in critical condition,” he told The Jordan Times.

Among the critical cases is a 78-year-old man who suffers from leukaemia, while a woman in her forties, who was infected due to contact with a family member diagnosed with the virus, is in “good condition”, said Mohammad Abdullat, director of the ministry’s communicable diseases control department.

The cases raise the number of coronavirus-related infections registered in the Kingdom since 2012 to 16, the year when the first case was recorded.

Two cases were registered in 2012, 10 in 2014 and four in 2015 so far, according to the ministry’s figures. 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

The global SARS epidemic in 2002 killed nearly 800 people.

MERS is a strain of coronavirus that was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

It is believed to have originated in camels. 

Following the confirmation of the new coronavirus cases, the Anti-Pandemic National Committee (APNC) decided Saturday to form a panel from the Health Ministry that is entrusted with visiting all hospitals to make sure they apply infection-control measures and take samples from those infected with acute respiratory-related diseases, particularly coronavirus, according to Azruie.

During a meeting, the committee pledged to continue its treatment plan for MERS patients according to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and initiate a therapy search committee that represents all medical sectors in Jordan. 

The APNC, which includes representatives of the Royal Medical Services, university hospitals and the private sector, is “following sound measures to deal with the coronavirus”, said the ministry’s secretary general, Daifallah Lozi.

“The ministry is equipped with qualified cadres who are trained on the early detection of the virus and are capable of taking the necessary precautionary measures to eliminate its outbreak,” he said in a statement received by The Jordan Times. 

He added that the ministry is “actively” recording acute respiratory diseases across the Kingdom through accredited hospitals and healthcare centres throughout the year in search for any virus, especially coronavirus. 

The ministry has called on public and private hospitals to abide by infection control measures and report any severe respiratory diseases to it, Lozi noted. 

Abdullat explained the measures Jordan is implementing are in cooperation with WHO in relation to the epidemiological surveillance and sentinel surveillance system for severe acute respiratory infections.  

“In a sentinel surveillance system, hospitals and healthcare centres agree to report all cases of one or more condition. In 2012, the ministry asked for WHO’s collaboration and sent samples to the Centre for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (NAMRU-3) in Egypt to assist in the laboratory investigation,” he said over the phone. 

The NAMRU-3 team informed the health ministry that all samples had tested negative for known coronaviruses and other respiratory viruses.

In October 2012, after the discovery of the MERS coronavirus, the ministry sent stored samples to NAMRU-3 and in November, the centre provided laboratory results that confirmed two cases of infection. 

The disease does not spread quickly and its symptoms are similar to respiratory illnesses and include fever, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

 

Participants at the APNC meeting, who included WHO representative in Jordan Maria Cristina Profili, discussed the details of a pamphlet that will be soon prepared to raise pilgrims’ awareness on MERS and the precautionary measures they should follow for safety.

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