Home > Pestilence > Tunisian Man Visiting Saudi Arabia Dies From New Coronavirus, Health Experts Worry Annual Hajj Could Lead To Global Outbreak

Tunisian Man Visiting Saudi Arabia Dies From New Coronavirus, Health Experts Worry Annual Hajj Could Lead To Global Outbreak


By Paul Schemm, The Associated Press – “RABAT, Morocco — A 66-year-old Tunisian man has died from the new coronavirus following a visit to Saudi Arabia and two of his adult children were infected with it, the Tunisian Health Ministry reported.

His sons were treated and have since recovered but the rest of the family remains under medical observation, the ministry said in a statement Monday. The World Health Organization confirmed the cases of the children, but said one of them was a daughter who was with her father for part of the trip to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. There was no immediate way to reconcile the differing reports.

The cases are the first for Tunisia and indicate that the virus is slowly trickling out of Saudi Arabia, where more than 30 coronavirus cases have been reported. There have been at least 20 deaths worldwide out of 40 cases.

‘These Tunisia cases haven’t changed our risk assessment, but they do show the virus is still infecting people,’ said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for WHO in Geneva.

The Tunisian fatality, a diabetic, had been complaining of breathing problems since his return from the trip and died in a hospital in the coastal Tunisian city of Monastir. Many previous coronavirus patients have had underlying medical problems, which WHO said might have made them more susceptible to getting infected. There is no specific treatment for the disease, but the agency has issued guidelines for how doctors might treat patients, like providing oxygen therapy and avoiding strong steroids.

The new virus has been compared to SARS, an unusual pneumonia that surfaced in China then erupted into a deadly international outbreak in early 2003.” Read more.

Professor of Health Science at Curtin University in Western Australia: “My main concern would be with the Hajj in mid-October this year, when about 2 million Muslims visit Saudi Arabia for the great pilgrimage. If the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to rise, Australia may have to consider setting up a special system to track returning pilgrims in case they develop a respiratory illness. There is no specific treatment for coronavirus infection, but those infected need to be isolated in hospital with barrier nursing precautions to prevent spread.” Read more.

World Health Organization Warns Saudi Coronavirus May Be Spreading, Calls For Urgent Search For Source – “The World Health Organization has issued a blunt assessment of the coronavirus outbreak in Saudi Arabia, acknowledging for the first time that there are concerns the virus may be spreading from person to person, at least in a limited way. The statement called for urgent investigations to find the source of the virus and learn how it is infecting people… The warnings come as health leaders from around the world are gathering in Geneva for the World Health Assembly …” Read more.

Global Health Officials Worried As Two New Viruses in Middle East And China Could Spark Possible World-Wide Outbreak – “Two respiratory viruses in different parts of the world have captured the attention of global health officials – a novel coronavirus in the Middle East and a new bird flu spreading in China. Last week, the coronavirus related to SARS spread to France, where one patient who probably caught the disease in Dubai infected his hospital roommate.” Read more.

Categories: Pestilence
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