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Another MERS death in Saudi Arabia takes toll to 59
January 30, 2014, 9:29 am

Saudi Arabia has recorded another death from the fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, bringing the kingdom’s toll to 59, the Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday.

The Saudi national, aged 60, died in a Riyadh hospital, the ministry said, adding that the man had suffered from chronic disease.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus, including fatalities, has now risen to 143.

On Monday, the World Health Organisation said it had been informed of 180 cases worldwide, including 77 deaths.

MERS is believed to have originated in Saudi Arabia, where the first case was detected in April 2012.

It is considered a more virulent but a less transmissible cousin of SARS, a coronavirus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8273 people, nine percent of whom died.

Chinese scientists this week claimed to have made a laboratory breakthrough in research to find a cure for the virus.

The study identified a compound that during lab dish experiments blocked infection by MERS, Agence France Press reported.

A type of small protein also known as a peptide prevented the virus from fusing with human respiratory cells, they said.

Preventing fusion would significantly reduce the likelihood of the virus replicating.

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