RIYADH, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia announced a jump of nearly 50 percent in deaths from a new virus yesterday after re-examining old data that also showed the number of infections since 2012 was a fifth higher than previously reported.
The increase in total confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to 688 from 575, and the rise in deaths from the virus to 282 from 190, came in a review of data ordered by the Health Ministry last month.
The sharp increase in deaths now attributed to MERS, which causes coughing, fever and pneumonia in some, means the mortality rate from the virus in Saudi Arabia is now 41 percent, instead of the 33 percent previously thought.
However, the ministry said that although the total number of historical cases had risen, the rate of infection in the most recent outbreak appeared to be slowing.
Of the total, 53 patients were still being treated, while 353 had recovered, the statement said.
“While the review has resulted in higher total number of previously unreported cases, we still see a decline in the number of new cases reported over the past few weeks,” Tariq Madani, head of the Health Ministry’s scientific advisory board, was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.
In Geneva, spokesman Glenn Thomas of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that it welcomed all efforts to gather, verify and share information on MERS