Earth Watch Report – Biological Hazards
|Biological Hazard||Lebanon||[The area was not defined.]|
The news came as Saudi Arabia, the country worst hit by the disease, announced four more deaths, bringing the toll to 121 since its first appearance there in September 2012.
“On Thursday afternoon, a patient who had been in hospital was diagnosed as being a carrier” of the virus, the ministry said, adding that the patient left the hospital after treatment “led to a significant improvement in his health.”
The ministry said “citizens have no cause for panic. They should take normal precautions to prevent respiratory diseases.
“It added that it was carrying out studies to “assure itself that there no epidemic in Lebanon” and urged doctors and hospitals to “take maximum precautions and inform the ministry of any suspect cases.”
Many Lebanese work in the Gulf, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
In humans, MERS causes coughing, fever and pneumonia. Cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.
Egypt’s Health Ministry issued a warning on Friday against children, elderly people and anyone suffering from chronic heart and chest diseases travelling to Saudi Arabia due to an outbreak there of a deadly new virus. Saudi Arabia said on Thursday the number of cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), an often fatal disease caused by a coronavirus, had nearly doubled in April, with 26 more infections reported on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Of the more than 370 people who caught the disease in Saudi Arabia, 107 have died since MERS first emerged two years ago.
The first case of the disease in Egypt was reported on Saturday – a 27-year-old man who lives in Saudi Arabia but returned ill to Egypt last week after having been in contact with an uncle in the kingdom who died of MERS.
International concern about the disease is acute because Saudi Arabia is expected to receive large numbers of foreign pilgrims during the fasting month of Ramadan in July, followed by millions more for Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage in October.
In a statement, Egypt’s health ministry said that anyone under the age of 15 or older than 65, as well as pregnant women and people suffering from chronic heart and chest diseases, should postpone pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.
It said no further MERS cases had been confirmed in Egypt. The man who contracted the virus is in a stable condition in a hospital in Cairo, a health ministry official told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia confirmed 26 more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed nearly a third of sufferers, and said 10 more people have died from the disease.
The confirmations follow Egypt’s announcement on Saturday that it had confirmed its first case of MERS in a man who had recently returned to the country from Riyadh, where he was working.
Saudi Arabia, where MERS was discovered around two years ago and which remains the country most affected, has now had 339 confirmed cases of MERS, of which 102 have been fatal, Reuters reports.
The 143 cases announced since the start of April represent a 73 percent jump in total infections in Saudi Arabia this month.
The new cases were announced in two statements published on the Health Ministry website on Saturday and Sunday.
The 10 confirmed on Saturday included seven in Jeddah, the focal point for the recent outbreak, two in the capital Riyadh and another in Mecca. Two MERS patients died.
The 16 further cases confirmed on Sunday included two in Riyadh, eight in Jeddah and another six in the northern city of Tabuk. Eight MERS sufferers died on Sunday.
The acting health minister, Adel Fakieh, said on Saturday he had designated three hospitals in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam on the Gulf coast as specialist centers for MERS treatment.
The three hospitals can accommodate 146 patients in intensive care, he said in comments carried by local press on Sunday.
Many Saudis have voiced concerns on social media about government handling of the outbreak, and last week King Abdullah sacked the health minister.
In Jeddah, some people are wearing facemasks and avoiding public gatherings, while pharmacies say sales of hand sanitizers and other hygiene products are soaring.