Saudi Arabia reports 2 more deaths from MERS virus

April 27, 2014
View photos
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, file photo, Egyptian Muslim pilgrims, some wearing masks as a precaution against the Middle East respiratory syndrome, pray after they cast stones at a pillar, symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, in Mina near the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah sacked the country’s health minister on Monday, April 21, 2014, amid a spike in deaths and infections from the virus known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. The official Saudi Press Agency carried the royal order that said Abdullah al-Rabiah was relieved of his post as Health Minister, and that Labor Minister Adel Faqih will temporarily take over the health minister’s portfolio until a replacement is named. The statement said al-Rabiah is now adviser to the Royal Court. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — 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 nine new cases of the disease.

The ministry said in a statement on its website late Saturday that one Saudi man died in Riyadh and the other in Jiddah, bringing to 94 the number of people who have died of the disease since September 2012. The nine new cases were detected in Riyadh, Jiddah and Mecca, raising the number of cases to 323.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003.

There is no vaccine or treatment for MERS. It is still unclear how it is transmitted.