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Rising Saudi death toll from Mers fuels public fear

Published on Apr 27, 2014 9:47 PM
Saudi hospital employees wear mouth and nose masks as they stand outside a local hospital's emergency department in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on April 22, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

JEDDAH (AFP) - The Mers death toll in Saudi Arabia neared 100 this weekend as the authorities scrambled to reassure an increasingly edgy population in the country worst-hit by the infectious coronavirus.

Public fears have been fuelled by a rapid rise in the number of fatalities from the respiratory infection, with 31 people dying this month - almost a third of the 94 deaths registered since the virus emerged in April 2012.

A 63-year-old woman, who had also suffered chronic illness, died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome on Saturday in the western city of Jeddah, and a 78-year-old man died of MERS in Riyadh, the health ministry said on Sunday.

It said the total number of cases diagnosed since the virus was first recorded in the kingdom has reached 323, representing the bulk of infections registered globally.

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