Mortality Rate From Coronavirus Jumps To 60 Percent, Four More Deaths Confirmed
May 31, 2013

Mortality Rate From Coronavirus Jumps To 60 Percent, Four More Deaths Confirmed

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Five additional cases of coronavirus, initially named nCoV, has been confirmed in Saudi Arabia, according to the country´s Ministry of Health. The Ministry reported the new cases to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday. Three of the patients have died, as well as a fourth patient -- an 81-year-old woman -- who was earlier reported to be infected with the virus.

All five new patients were from the eastern region of the country, but not from Al-Ahsa, where an April 2013 outbreak occurred in a healthcare facility. The Saudi government is now investigating the likely source of infection in both the healthcare and community settings, according to the WHO.

The Ministry said all five patients had underlying medical conditions which resulted in multiple hospitalizations.

The first patient, a 56-year-old man, became ill on May 12 and died on May 20. The second patient is an 85-year-old woman who became ill on May 17 and is currently listed in critical condition. The third patient was a 76-year-old woman who became ill on May 17 and was released from the hospital on May 27. The fourth patient was a 77-year-old man who became ill on May 19 and died on May 26. The fifth patient, a 73-year-old man, became ill on May 18 and died on May 26.

The new cases now bring the total number of infected persons to 50, according to the NY Daily News. The three latest deaths also bring the coronavirus-related death count to 30, increasing the mortality rate to 60 percent.

In a report released on May 28, the WHO issued recommendations for “enhanced surveillance and precautions for the testing and management of suspected cases.” It said it would also continue to work with international partners for as long as needed.

The novel coronavirus was redubbed on May 23 following a proposal by the Coronavirus Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). It recommended the virus be called the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The WHO said it generally prefers that viruses are not named after regions or places from where they are initially detected in order to minimize unnecessary geographical discrimination that may be based on coincidental detection rather than a true area for emergence of the virus. The WHO said no group was convened to discuss the naming of the virus, but noted that the proposed name does represent a consensus that is acceptable to the organization, since it was “built on consultation with a large group of scientists.”

Although the WHO continues to work closely with countries and international partners, it currently is not advising special screenings pertaining to the virus and it has offered no recommendations on travel or trade restrictions. It said it will continue to closely monitor the situation.

But as experts continue to look into cases and deaths pertaining to MERS-CoV, it becomes clear that some level of precaution is needed to ensure the virus is contained. Health experts are calling on healthcare facilities to isolate patients who show signs and symptoms of MERS-CoV for at least 12 days to avoid spreading it to other patients and/or relatives.

French health officials recently reported the first death in their country of a man who became ill last month after visiting the Middle East; he spread the infection to a hospital patient who shared a room with him. That second man remains in serious condition, according to the French Health Ministry.

Experts are currently unsure how the first cases of the virus infected humans, but believe it came from animals such as bats, camels or goats. Since taking a stronghold, the virus has shown some level of transmissibility between humans, but health officials are stopping short of saying it is highly contagious until more information is on the table.

In a speech on Monday, WHO´s Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, said the MERS-CoV is currently the greatest concern for her organization, calling the ongoing crisis a “threat to the entire world.”

Maria Cheng of The Associated Press reported yesterday that French doctors have estimated the incubation period for the disease is between nine and 12 days, longer than an original estimate of between seven and 10 days, reported by other officials. This new estimation is why the experts are calling for longer quarantines, especially since those with underlying medical conditions are very susceptible from exposure to infected persons.

In a paper published in The Lancet, the French experts wrote that if the virus further evolves, it could become significantly more dangerous. Further mutations could mean the virus becomes “increasingly transmissible.”