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MERS scare in the north

By Evie Andreou

THE death of an 83-year-old woman on Sunday caused panic in the north after suspicions she died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

According to reports, the woman, who returned from a pilgrimage from Saudi Arabia where the virus was first detected two years ago, was hospitalised with fever, respiratory and heart problems.

Six other people who also returned from Saudi Arabia had complained of respiratory problems and are in quarantine, while the Turkish Cypriot side is in the process of locating all of the passengers that were on board the same flight so they can be tested.

Tissue samples from the dead woman, who was also suffering from a serious heart condition, diabetes, and high blood pressure, have been sent to a lab in Turkey to determine the exact cause of death.

Turkish Cypriot ‘health minister’ Ahmet Gülle was reported saying that it was not certain whether the woman had died from the virus. The other patients were not seriously illl and their chances of recovery were high, he said.

He also said that there was no need for panic and urged people with MERS symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea) to go to hospital and seek treatment.

All necessary measures to deal with a MERS outbreak had been taken, reports from the north said. People were also urged to avoid travelling to countries where there might be an outbreak of MERS.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus. According to the World Health Organisation MERS, since April 2012 when the virus was first diagnosed had killed 93 out of 254 confirmed cases.

The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) reported that so far all of the cases have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. It said MERS had spread through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. The CDC said that there was no evidence of sustained contagion in community settings.

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