Saudi Arabia reports 7 cases of novel coronavirus, 5 dead

Saudi Arabia's health ministry recently reported five deaths due to novel coronavirus infection, with two more infected persons in intensive care in the hospital.

Of 24 novel coronavirus cases reported globally, 17 occurred in Saudi Arabia, and 16 of the 24 cases resulted in death. The virus is thought to be spread from animal-to-human, although it is unknown from which animal the virus is sourced; not much is known about the virus's ability to spread from person-to-person.

Two of the cases are likely to have been transmitted from human-to-human, while the majority of the 24 infected persons visited a farm before they became ill. In Saudi Arabia, all 17 cases occurred in the same region of the country.

"All the cases that have been reported were in the same hospital in [Al-Ahsa]. We have not found any cases anywhere else in the eastern region," Ziad A. Memish, deputy minister for public health, said.

The World Health Organization is working with countries that have reported outbreaks to analyze the situation and figure out the best plan of action. The WHO has not recommended travel restrictions or screening at point of entry.

The virus is related to severe acute respiratory syndrome and bat coronavirus, and emerged in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012. Most of the reported cases resulted in severe pneumonia; only two of 24 global cases were mild.