Mers-CoV death toll reaches 39 as two more cases confirmed in Saudi Arabia (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia has confirmed another death from the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers-Cov), bringing the toll since the start of the outbreak to 39.

The patient who died was from the Eastern Region and had been admitted to hospital on 26 April.

The ministry of health said it had two additional laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease as well as the fatality.

Seventy people have been diagnosed with the disease, the majority of them in Saudi Arabia.

The latest cases include a 41-year-old woman from Riyadh, who had been in contact with another person who had the disease.

A 32-year-old man with underlying medical conditions was also diagnosed and was reported to be in a critical condition in hospital.

Sars-like scenario

The four earlier cases involved a 43-year-old woman, who has since recovered, and three female healthcare workers aged 29, 39 and 45. All three were from the Taif governorate and two of the women had cared for other Mers-Cov patients.

The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the virus was believed to have been transmitted from person to person in May. A patient in France contracted the disease from another Mers-CoV sufferer - they had been sharing a room in hospital.

Mers-CoV, which is in the same family as Sars, which killed 775 people during an outbreak in 2002-03, has been found in Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the UK.

A recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said that the full potential of Mers-CoV was not known: "At this stage, it is not possible to exclude a future Sars-like scenario, especially in the light of the hospital-related outbreaks in Jordan and Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

"An ongoing source of human infection remains present in the Middle East and more cases may be identified in the EU in the immediate future."