Saudi national with suspected Mers dies in Philippines

MANILA (AFP) - A Saudi national suspected of carrying the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) virus has died while visiting the Philippines, the health department said on Saturday (Oct 3).

The patient, who had a cough, fever and occasional chills, died in an undisclosed hospital last Tuesday after a two-day confinement, Health Secretary Janette Garin said in a statement.

The patient's X-ray results also "suggested" Mers infection, Garin said, without providing additional details.

Twelve health workers who had contact with the patient were isolated in government hospitals after they developed Mers symptoms, but they were negative for infection as of Saturday, she said.

Sixty-two other people who had contact with the patient had not developed symptoms, but will be monitored for 14 days, she said.

"We urge the public to be vigilant to make sure that Mers-CoV has a limited presence in our country," she said.

"What is important is to report to the nearest hospital if you experience flu-like symptoms and a history of travel to the Arabian Peninsula or possible exposure to a Mers-CoV infected patient."

Before the new suspected case, the Philippines this year confirmed two Mers cases: a 36-year-old man from the Middle East, whose nationality was not disclosed, and a Filipina nurse who returned to the country from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia recently reported a surge in Mers infections with 19 deaths last August, ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

A total of 536 people have died of Mers in the kingdom since it first appeared in 2012, according to data from the Saudi health ministry's website as of Friday.