A state of panic began spreading in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, especially in Al-Ahsa Governorate, which has seen most of the infections with virus ‘Corona’ killer-like SARS.

After the first case was recorded in western Saudi Arabia in September last year, mainly in Jeddah, the medical staff did not expect to report up to 31 cases, of which 15 deaths. In Al-Ahsa Governorate alone 21 cases were recorded of which 9 cases died, according to the local Ministry of Health.

The total number of registered cases of Corona virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome CoV is 54 worldwide, and their age ranged between two and 94 years, of whom 33 died, while they were nine countries that recorded the cases; four in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates), and five other countries (United Kingdom, Tunisia, Germany, France and Italy). Since most of the cases were discovered in the Middle East, the World Health Organisation proposed to name it Middle East Respiratory Syndrome CoV (MERS-Cov).

Basic Information:

What is the novel coronavirus?

This is a new strain of coronavirus (nCoV) that has not been seen in humans before.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in humans and animals. In people, coronaviruses can cause illnesses ranging in severity from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A more specific name for the disease caused by nCoV, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome CoV, has been recently proposed.

What are the symptoms of nCoV?

Common symptoms in patients with nCoV are acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Most patients have had pneumonia. Many have also had gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea. Some patients have had kidney failure. About half of people infected with nCoV have died. In people with immune deficiencies, the disease may have an atypical presentation. It is important to note that the current understanding of illness caused by this infection is based on only a few cases and may change as we learn more about the virus.

How do people become infected with this virus?

We do not yet know how people become infected with this virus. Investigations are underway to determine the source of the virus, the types of exposure that lead to infection, the mode of transmission, and the clinical pattern and course of disease.

Is there a vaccine for nCoV?

No vaccine is currently available.

Does treatment exist for nCoV?

There is no specific treatment for disease caused by nCoV. Treatment should be based on the patient’s symptoms. Supportive care can be highly effective.

Has WHO recommended any travel or trade restrictions related to this new virus?

No. WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions with respect to nCoV. WHO will continue to review all recommendations as more information becomes available.

Although WHO did not impose any travel restrictions, some health experts say pilgrims planning to travel to Saudi Arabia should wear facemask to prevent spread of Middle East virus.

(Source: World Health Organization)