April 22, 2014 9:15 am

Saudi health officials report 2 more deaths, 17 cases of MERS virus

A colorized transmission electron micrograph showing a virion of the novel coronavirus that emerged in 2012 is shown in a handout photo.Authorities in Saudi Arabia say they have found two more people who were infected with the new coronavirus in a large cluster of cases in the eastern portion of the country.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s health ministry says two more patients who contracted a potentially fatal Middle East virus related to SARS have died as the kingdom detected 17 new cases of the disease.

The ministry said on Tuesday that a chronically ill 73-year-old Saudi man died in Riyadh. The other victim, a 54-year-old Saudi man, died in Jiddah.

The deaths bring to at least 81 the number who died in the kingdom since September 2012. The 17 new cases of the virus were detected in four cities, bringing to 261 the number of people infected.

On Monday, King Abdullah sacked the country’s health minister without giving a reason.

The kingdom is scrambling to contain the spread of the coronavirus related to SARS known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.

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