On Thursday, the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health (MOH) reported an additional 19 historical (old) cases of MERS-CoV, as part of an ongoing review of patient data. This follows the update from June where the ministry added 113 new cases and 92 deaths to the total.

Image/Maureen Metcalfe; Azaibi Tamin
Image/Maureen Metcalfe; Azaibi Tamin

The MOH news release states: The new information was discovered during an ongoing validation process designed to ensure the accuracy of MERS-CoV historical infection data. The review, undertaken by an independent auditor, is part of MoH’s effort to minimize data discrepancies, with the goal of capturing information that enables healthcare workers to better control the disease.

MoH is conducting a retrospective analysis that includes a case-by-case review to better understand how to capture patient data in a more timely and complete way. It has also stepped up efforts to communicate to healthcare workers the requirement for quick and accurate reporting of infectious disease information. The new data has been shared with the World Health Organization.

Many of the additional cases were identified through a review of patient records at hospitals that perform on-site laboratory testing.

The MERS outbreak in Saudi Arabia has slowed this summer, although the ministry has reported six cases of MERS-CoV  since Sep 8.

In total, MoH had identified 748 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV as of 18 September, 2014.