Oman reports first case of coronavirus
Oman has reported its first case of the deadly Mers coronavirus, local newspapers said yesterday, the fourth Gulf Arab country where the strain has been found since it emerged in Saudi Arabia last year.
Omani newspapers quoted Health Affairs undersecretary Mohamed bin Saif Al Hosni as saying that the patient was admitted to a hospital in Nizwa, a town south-west of Muscat, suffering from a chest infection.
The country’s health minister, Ahmed Al Saeedi, said the infected patient was a 68-year-old Omani man who was also suffering from diabetes.
The Oman Daily Observer said the man, who was in stable condition, contracted the virus after contact with a person from outside the country.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV), which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, has been reported in people in the Gulf, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain.
It has so far claimed 62 lives worldwide, with most of the deaths occurring in Saudi Arabia, where the disease first appeared in September 2012, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO said last week there was a total of 144 confirmed cases of the respiratory disease worldwide.
Experts are struggling to understand Mers, for which there is no vaccine.
It is considered a deadlier but less transmissible cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, 9 per cent of whom died.
Like Sars, Mers appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from a temperature, cough and breathing difficulty.
But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure and the extremely high death rate has caused serious concern.
In a study into what kind of animal “reservoir” may be fuelling the outbreak, scientists said this month they had found strong evidence it is widespread among dromedary camels in the Middle East.
Earlier this week, Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health announced that a new case involving a 23-year-old expatriate resident had been recorded in the country.
It also said that a Qatari citizen had recovered from the disease and has been discharged from hospital.
Updated: October 30, 2013 04:00 AM