Oman Records First MERS Death

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An Omani man has died after contracting MERS, becoming the first recorded fatality from the coronavirus in the Gulf sultanate, health authorities announced Sunday.

The 68-year-old was "suffering from several chronic illnesses including diabetes, blood pressure, and heart failure," the health ministry said in a statement.

"The main cause of death was failure in lung function," it said.

Health authorities announced the man's infection by (MERS-CoV) -- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus -- on October 30.

It was the only MERS case reported in Oman so far.

The man was receiving treatment at a hospital in Nazwa, 150 kilometers (95 miles) west of Muscat.

The ministry said that tests carried out for all those who had contacted the victim had given negative results.

Health authorities in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf nation where the virus first appeared in September 2012, announced on Sunday a new death by MERS, bringing to 53 the number of fatalities in the kingdom by the coronavirus.

MERS has so far cost 64 lives worldwide, according to a November 4 update by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Experts are struggling to understand the disease, for which there is no vaccine.

It is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

Like SARS, MERS appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from a temperature, cough and breathing difficulty.

But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure and the extremely high death rate has caused serious concern.

In August, researchers pointed to Arabian camels as possible hosts of the virus.

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