MERS toll rises to 168 in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh: The MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus in Saudi Arabia has claimed 168 lives since September 2012, with five fresh deaths reported, the health ministry here said Sunday.

The ministry said nine more confirmed cases of MERS were reported Saturday, bringing the total number of infected cases to 629 since the outbreak of the chronic disease, Arab News reported.

Three from Jeddah, one from Riyadh and one from Madinah died Saturday.

Meanwhile, doctors were trying to stop the spread of MERS. They said the disease killed about 30 percent of those who were infected.

It is becoming increasingly clear that people can be infected with MERS without developing severe respiratory disease, said David Swerdlow, who heads the MERS response team at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"You don't have to be in the intensive care unit with pneumonia to have a case of MERS," Swerdlow was quoted as saying.

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