Saudi closes emergency ward after spike in MERS virus cases

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A Saudi medical official says authorities have temporarily closed an emergency ward in one of the kingdom's largest hospitals after at least 46 people, including hospital staff, contracted the potentially fatal Middle East respiratory syndrome, also known as MERS.

Dr. Hanan Balkhi says that of that of the 46 infected at King Abdulaziz Medical City in the capital, Riyadh, 15 were medical staff.

Thursday's statement says the ward will remain closed for two weeks and that the patients are being transferred to other hospitals.

Before the latest report, Saudi Health Ministry said that 480 people have died of the coronavirus since it was first identified in 2012.

A ministry statement Wednesday said about 1,115 cases have been registered nationwide. Of those, 590 have recovered and the rest are being treated.

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