Saudi Arabia says has 10 more cases in MERS outbreak

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has confirmed 10 more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which kills around a third of sufferers, and said two more people have died from the disease.

It follows Egypt's announcement on Saturday that it had confirmed its first case of MERS in a man who had recently returned to the country from Riyadh, where he was working.

Saudi Arabia, where MERS was discovered around two years ago and which remains the country most affected, has now had 323 confirmed cases of MERS, of which 94 have been fatal.

The 127 cases announced since the start of April represent a 65 per cent jump in total infections in Saudi Arabia this month.

The new cases included seven in Jeddah, the focal point for the recent outbreak, two in the capital Riyadh and another in Mecca, the Health Ministry said in a statement on its website.

The acting health minister, Adel Fakieh, said on Saturday he had designated three hospitals in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam on the Gulf coast as specialist centres for MERS treatment.

The three hospitals can accommodate 146 patients in intensive care, he said in comments carried by local press on Sunday.

Many Saudis have voiced concerns on social media about government handling of the outbreak, and last week King Abdullah sacked the health minister.

In Jeddah, some people are wearing facemasks and avoiding public gatherings, while pharmacies say sales of hand sanitisers and other hygiene products are soaring.