Oman announces first Mers infection

MUSCAT (AFP) - Health authorities in Oman announced the first case of Mers coronavirus in the Gulf sultanate, state news agency ONA reported.

The patient, an Omani man, is receiving treatment at a hospital and he is "stable", it said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"He is suffering from a chest infection." The statement gave no more details on the case, the first in Oman.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV) has so far claimed 62 lives worldwide, with the greatest number of deaths in another Gulf state, Saudi Arabia, where the disease first appeared in September 2012, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO said last week that there were a total of 144 laboratory-confirmed cases of the respiratory disease worldwide.

Experts are struggling to understand Mers, for which there is no vaccine.

It is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine per cent of whom died.

Like Sars, Mers appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from a temperature, cough and breathing difficulty.

But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure and the extremely high death rate has caused serious concern.

In August, researchers pointed to the Arabian camel as a possible host of the virus.

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