MERS death toll in Saudi Arabia rises to 12 this year

RIYADH – The total death toll from the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in Saudi Arabia has reached 12 this year after a resident of the western city of Jeddah succumbed to the illness, the Saudi Health Ministry said Monday.

The latest fatality brings the total number of MERS deaths in the kingdom to 69 since 2012.

According to the ministry, five cases of coronavirus were reported in Jeddah, one of which ultimately proved fatal.

Saudi's first case of the virus was documented in September 2012. It has since spread throughout the region.

Along with Saudi Arabia, cases of MERS have so far been reported in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Jordan and Oman.

Symptoms, which include persistent fever and cough, are similar to those associated with the SARS virus.

MERS, for which no known cure is available, destroys the lungs and kidneys. It is presumed that long-term physical contact can lead to infection.

During a 2003 epidemic of SARS (an earlier form of coronavirus), more than 800 people – mostly from Asia – succumbed to the virus.

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