Middle East

Saudi Mers death toll passes 100

Man wears mouth and nose mask in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah. 27 April 2014
Image caption There is growing concern in Saudi Arabia about the spread of Mers

Saudi Arabia says more than 100 patients infected with the Mers coronavirus have now died since the outbreak began in 2012.

The health ministry said another eight deaths occurred on Sunday, taking the toll to 102.

The acting health minister says three hospitals in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam have been designated specialist centres for treating Mers.

Mers causes symptoms including fever, pneumonia and kidney failure.

The rate of infections is increasing and the World Health Organization (WHO) has offered to help Saudi Arabia investigate infection patterns.

The Saudi health ministry reported the latest deaths in a statement late on Sunday.

Among the victims were a child in the capital, Riyadh, and three people in the western city of Jeddah.

The ministry said it had detected a total of 16 new cases of Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) over the past 24 hours.

Acting health minister Adel Fakieh said the three hospitals designated as specialist centres for Mers treatment can accommodate 146 patients in intensive care.

On Saturday, Egypt recorded its first case - a 27-year-old man who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia.

Correspondents say many Saudis have voiced concerns on social media about government handling of the outbreak.

Last Monday, Saudi health minister Abdullah al-Rabiah was sacked without explanation as the Mers death toll climbed.

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