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Iran reports its first 2 cases of MERS virus

By The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran has recorded its first two cases of the potentially fatal Middle East respiratory virus, first reported in Saudi Arabia two years ago, media reported Wednesday.

The kingdom has been the focal point of the outbreak of the virus, known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Iran's Hamshahri daily on Wednesday quoted health ministry official Mohammad Mahdi Gouya as saying the virus was confirmed in two sisters in Kerman, southeastern Iran. One was reported to be in critical condition. It remains unclear how they contracted the virus and no further details were available.

Gouya said there are also two other suspected cases, from the same family as the sisters.

The official said all those who had been in touch with the two sisters were identified within 48 hours. He added they were all under medical supervision as a precautionary measure.

Gouya also said measures have been taken to provide information to pilgrims who visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimages to Mecca.

"Necessary measures have been taken to visit pilgrims who return from Hajj pilgrimage back home," he was quoted as saying.

About 600 people have had the illness and about 175 people have died.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, which caused some 800 deaths in 2003.

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