No deaths from MERS virus: Egypt health ministry

Ahram Online, Saturday 1 Mar 2014

Health ministry denies early reports that a woman in Aswan died of MERS; says blood tests are being conducted to find cause of death

A health ministry representative has said there are no deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in Egypt yet, and that reports of a woman dying from the virus are inaccurate.

First undersecretary of the health ministry Amr Kandil said there was suspicion that Gamila Ibrahim, residing in Upper Egypt’s Aswan, died from the virus, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported. However, the reports were incorrect and a sample of her blood is being examined to determine the real reason of death.

MERS, a deadly respiratory virus that appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012, is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that emerged in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

The origins of the new syndrome are unclear, although some theories point to the possibility of a virus mutation from animals to humans.

Saudi Arabia, the country worst hit by MERS, recorded 145 cases, of which 60 proved fatal, since the virus first appeared in September 2012.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports on its website that the WHO has been informed on 182 cases of MERS infection worldwide, and 79 deaths.

Last October, an Egyptian woman in Mansoura was claimed to have died from the MERS virus. However, it was later revealed by the health ministry that she had died from the H1N1 (swine flu) virus.

The health ministry said at the time that Egypt was free of any MERS cases.

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