RIYADH (AFP) - A new SARS-like virus has killed two more people in Saudi Arabia, taking the number of deaths from the coronavirus that the kingdom has announced to seven in one week, the health ministry said.
"The health ministry has announced that three infections by the new coronavirus have been registered during the past days in Al-Ahsaa. Two of the victims have died while the third is in a stable condition," state news agency SPA said late Sunday.
The report did not identify the nationality of the latest victims.
On Wednesday, the health ministry announced five Saudis recently died of the SARS-like virus and that two more were being treated in an intensive care unit.
The World Health Organisation said on Friday that three new cases of the virus were detected in Saudi Arabia.
The outbreak has occurred in the oil-rich Red Sea region of Al-Ahsaa, which is near Bahrain and Qatar.
The latest deaths bring the number of people who have died after contracting the virus - first detected last year - to 18, of which 11 have been reported in Saudi Arabia.
The SPA report on Sunday said the ministry "reassures everyone that the cases are still not widespread compared with other flu viruses," adding there was "no reason to worry".
The ministry says 13 infections have been "recently" registered in the kingdom.
The virus was first detected in mid-2012 and is a cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which triggered a scare 10 years ago when it erupted in east Asia, leaping to humans from animal hosts.
The mysterious virus has been deadliest in Saudi Arabia, and the other cases were reported in Jordan, Germany and Britain.