Saudi Arabia reports 5 more MERS virus deaths

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FILE - In this Wednesday, April 16, 2014, file photo, passengers walk past the medical quarantine area showing information sheets for the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus at the arrival section of Manila's International Airport in Paranaque, south of Manila. One expert says recent outbreaks of MERS in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that led to more than 20 infections, many among health-care workers, “have put us into uncharted territory.”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/Aaron Favila, File)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry says five more patients who contracted a potentially fatal Middle East virus related to SARS have died in the kingdom as the number of reported infections from the disease there rises past 300.

The ministry said Friday the deaths were among 14 new cases of the Middle East respiratory syndrome detected in the cities of Riyadh, Jiddah and the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

Two other deaths were recorded a day earlier as the kingdom releases near-daily reports of a rising number of infections.

The ministry says 92 people have died and 313 have contracted the virus in the kingdom since September 2012.

On Monday, King Abdullah fired the country's health minister as officials struggle to alleviate public concerns amid a spike in recent infections.