A 56-year-old Qatari woman diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has died, one week after being admitted to Hamad Hospital’s intensive care unit.
The woman was the fifth Qatari to contract the disease. She suffered from chronic illness and died on Aug. 31, the Supreme Council of Health disclosed yesterday.
The patient is the third national to have been killed by the virus in Qatar. MERS has so far infected more than 100 people and claimed some 50 lives worldwide.
Last month, the SCH confirmed two new cases of the virus inside the country. The first, a 59-year-old Qatari man who is in stable condition but still hospitalized, is thought to have contracted MERS while visiting Saudi Arabia.
The other, a 29-year-old Qatari man with asthma and other underlying “risk factors,” had not recently traveled abroad, and remains in critical condition at Hamad.
According to the World Health Organization, Qatar screened some 138 healthcare workers, family and community contacts of the two men last month, and so far all have tested negative.
However, officials said they expect the number of MERS cases in Qatar to continue to rise. Neighboring Saudi Arabia appears to be the epicenter of the virus, seeing 42 deaths and 84 cases of MERS so far.
Despite Qatar’s majority expat population, there have been no reported cases of non-nationals coming down with MERS. When asked for comment, a senior SCH official told Doha News, “I have no answer for this.”
He added that MERS is a new disease, and many health experts in the world are endeavoring to figure out how it ticks.
Some of the most common symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and breathing difficulties, and occasionally diarrhea in patients with weakened immune systems.
WHO continues to ask healthcare providers in all countries to “maintain vigilance” when it comes to MERS.
The SCH has said it is stepping up surveillance of acute respiratory infections in Qatar, especially illnesses among those who have been abroad. Is is unclear whether the latest patient had traveled outside of Qatar.
Anyone with questions or concerns can also call a 24/7 hotline: +974-6674-0951.
Credit: Image courtesy of Gewoon-Nieuws