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Medicine

SARS-like infection claims more Saudi lives

A recently discovered strain of the coronavirus has claimed a further four lives in Saudi Arabia, according to the country’s Health Ministry. The SARS-like infection has killed more than 30 people in the Gulf kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's Heatlh Ministry said on Monday that four more people had died of the disease.

While two of the fatalities were in the western city of Taif, the other two were in Eastern Province, a statement said.

The ministry also said that three new sufferers of the disease had been identified, including a 2-year-old child. All of those patients were reported to be suffering from chronic illnesses.

Known as MERS-CoV, the strain of coronavirus was first discovered in 2012 in a man in Saudi Arabia.

Officials are still investigating to find out how easily the virus is spread. MERS-CoV is related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a virus that killed some 775 people in a global pandemic in 2003.

The latest update by the World Health Organization on Friday said there had been 33 deaths and 58 laboratory-confirmed cases.

Infections have been reported in France, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Tunisia, Britain and Italy.

The origin of the virus - which appears to spread only when there is prolonged, close contact - has not yet been established.

rc/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)