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5 Saudi Victims of SARS-Like Virus Dead, Two in Intensive Care: Report

Update Date: May 04, 2013 08:02 PM EDT

Five Saudis died after contracting a new SARS-like virus last week and two are in intensive care in Saudi Arabia's Alhasaa province, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

They had not travelled abroad, suggesting they contracted the novel coronavirus (NCoV) locally. Saudi Arabia's deputy minister for public health said that all the cases were from a single hospital over the last few days and he had no reason to believe a larger number of people were exposed. NCoV.

"All the cases that have been reported were in the same hospital in Alhasaa. We have not found any cases anywhere else in the eastern region," Dr Ziad A Memish told The National.

Dr Memish said that Saudi Arabia's medical system had undertaken surveillance measures since the first report of the virus last summer.

"We are asking hospitals to test all individuals" who present symptoms consistent with the virus, he said.

"We are recommending precautionary measures such as covering one's mouth and nose when sneezing, maintaining good hygiene. Hopefully this will prevent the spread until we have more information."

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Friday that three new cases of the virus were detected in Saudi Arabia, bringing to 27 the global total of confirmed cases, including 16 deaths. WHO said in a statement that the cases were not from the same family and preliminary inquiries showed "no indication of recent travel or animal contact" in any of the confirmed cases. The agency said the most recently reported death from NCoV was a 73-year-old man from the United Arab Emirates in March.

According to WHO, NCoV symptoms include; causes pneumonia, acute severe respiratory illness, breathing problems, fever,  shortness of breath and sometimes kidney failure.

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