Algiers (ANTARA News/Xinhua-OANA) - Algeria has confirmed its first two cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection, both being pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia, the countrys Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

The infections were two men aged 66 and 59 respectively, both of who had returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah pilgrimage.

The first victim had showed some early symptoms of the deadly disease such as fever and breathing disorder, while the second suffered from a respiratory difficulty and digestive problems while in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the Health Ministry said. Both are receiving medical treatment in their respective provinces

Algeria issued a MERS alert last June, and has recently raised the alert level due to the virus ever changing epidemiology across the Middle East region.

MERS coronavirus has already claimed 187 lives in Saudi Arabia since its inception in 2012. Cases have also been reported in other countries, including Iran, the United States and the Netherlands.

The virus is deadlier but less contagious than the one that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which broke out in 2003 and killed about 800 people worldwide.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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