A 59-year-old Qatari man has been diagnosed with a coronavirus that has infected at least 94 people worldwide, killing half of them, and is thought to have originated in the Gulf.
UPDATE | 10:43am
Health officials manning the government’s special MERS hotline have told Doha News that the infected man had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia.
According to a statement released this evening by the Supreme Council of Health, the man tested positive for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after returning from a trip outside of the country.
The patient is a 59-year-old Qatari citizen who felt the symptoms while abroad and upon his arrival he was checked up and diagnosed with the disease in the National Influenza Laboratory.
The SCH stressed that the patient is receiving the appropriate medical treatment and he is now in a “stable condition.”
The national is the first patient to be diagnosed with MERS inside of Qatar. But a Tunisian man who visited the country in March and died at home is thought to have had contracted the virus here.
And a 49-year-old Qatari man was among the first patients to be diagnosed with the disease when it was discovered last September. The man, who became sick after visiting Saudi Arabia, had been flown to the UK for treatment, and died in London on June 28.
KSA appears to be the epicenter of the virus, and is where the majority of patients have been diagnosed.
Some of the most common symptoms of MERS include fever, cough and breathing difficulties, and occasionally diarrhea in patients with weakened immune systems.
The exact cause of MERS is unknown, though researchers have recently linked the virus to a certain breed of camels in the Gulf.
MERS now appears to spread through human to human contact, especially among those who come into close contact with an infected person. Doctors have not yet come up with an effective treatment.
The SCH said it is stepping up surveillance of acute respiratory infections in Qatar, especially illnesses among those who have been abroad. It did not say which country the newly infected patient traveled to before returning to Doha.
There is also a 24/7 hotline to call for anyone concerned about the virus: +974-6674-0951.
Previously, Hamad Medical Corp. announced that it had set aside 18 rooms for any patients who come down with the virus. As always, residents are advised to wash their hands often and cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing to prevent the spread of germs.
Credit: Image courtesy of EDEN