Emirati man contracts MERS-virus infection

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ABU DHABI: Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced that an 82-year-old man has been diagnosed with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection, the first case to be recorded in the Gulf state.

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The Emirati citizen who contracted the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-like virus suffers from cancer and is being treated in hospital in the capital, Abu Dhabi health authority said in a statement carried by the Emirates News Agency on Thursday (Friday in Manila).

The authority said that this was the first case to be diagnosed in UAE.

In May, France said a 65-year-old man was in hospital after being diagnosed with the coronavirus after a holiday in Dubai. But the UAE health ministry said at the time no cases of the virus had been recorded in the country.

Experts are struggling to understand MERS, which has mostly affected neighboring Saudi Arabia where 65 cases have been detected, including 38 fatalities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced last week that it had convened emergency talks on the MERS virus.

Concerns have been expressed about the potential impact of October’s hajj pilgrimage, when millions of Muslims from around the globe head to and from Saudi Arabia.

The WHO has not recommended any MERS-related travel restrictions, but says countries should monitor unusual respiratory infection patterns.

The first recorded MERS death was in June last year in Saudi Arabia.

Like SARS, MERS appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure.

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