Over the past couple of days there have been scattered reports appearing in the Kuwaiti press indicating that a fatal MERS case had occurred earlier this month – and it was alleged – it had been covered up; charges that were levied by `Frontline’ MP Hamdan Al-Azmi.
A quick Google search reveals Al-Azmi to be engaged in a protracted political battle with Kuwaiti Minister of Health, recently calling for his resignation (See Arab Times Sept 14th report Health Minister urged to quit).
One example (of several) of these reports can be found in the Arab Times Online.
KUWAIT CITY, Sept 21: MP Hamdan Azmi has forwarded questions to Health Minister Ali Al- Obeidi on the death of a 74-yearold Kuwaiti at the Military Hospital due to MERS-CoV (coronavirus), especially since the health officials have allegedly kept it a secret from the public.
Al-Azmi disclosed he has obtained information that the victim was a camel trader and he did not leave the country so he might have acquired the disease from camels, asserting this is more dangerous.
He demanded for the patient’s records, copies of his medical reports including test and x-ray results, and names of the members of the medical team who was in charge of the patient. He asked why the patient was not transferred to a specialized hospital after being diagnosed with MERS-CoV; in addition to the number of such cases in Kuwait, procedures taken concerning those who lived with the patient and awareness programs to prevent spread of the virus.
Given the lack of corroboration, and the heated politics involved, I’ve been waiting for something a bit more credible before blogging this case.
Today, we have that, in the form of a brief WHO statement that confirms a case was confirmed on September 14th, and the WHO was notified 5 days later. The victim, who owned camels and had not recent travel out of the country, died on September 19th.
Disease outbreak news
23 September 2015
On 19 September 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of Kuwait notified WHO of 1 additional fatal case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.
Details of the case
A 78-year-old male from Kuwait city developed symptoms on 8 September and, on 13 September, was admitted to hospital. The patient, who had comorbidities, tested positive for MERS-CoV on 14 September. The patient owned dromedary camels and had a history of frequent contact with them. He had no history of exposure to other known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. The patient passed away on 19 September. Contact tracing of household and healthcare contacts is ongoing for this case.
Globally, WHO has been notified of 1,570 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 555 related deaths.
This is only the 4th confirmed MERS case out of Kuwait, with the last case reported by the WHO on March 20th, 2014.