Muscat: The first known case of Mers coronavirus in Oman succumbed to the deadly virus on Sunday morning after battling the illness for 12 days.

The 68-year-old Omani from the country’s northwest region was first diagnosed with Mers on September 29 at the Adam health centre, about 200km northwest of Muscat, but he was moved to the Nizwa Hospital as he had a persistent fever, where he tested positive for the virus.

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Health, the patient was suffering from multiple chronic diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

“He was under the best medical care but his condition kept deteriorating and on Saturday morning he breathed his last due to lung failure,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

During a recent interaction with media Dr Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Saeedi, Oman’s Minister of Health, had said: “We have examined 129 cases over the last year and all tested negative for this virus. We have a strong surveillance system which has also been appreciated by the WHO.”

Symptoms of Mers infection include renal failure and severe acute pneumonia, which often result in a fatal outcome. The first patient had a “seven-day history of fever, cough, expectoration and shortness of breath”. Mers has an estimated incubation period of 12 days.

Meanwhile, Saudi health authorities announced on Sunday a new death caused by Mers, bringing to 53 the number of fatalities in the kingdom from the coronavirus.

The health ministry gave no details on the latest death in the country most affected by the disease that first appeared in the Gulf state in September 2012.

The virus has so far cost 64 lives worldwide, according to a November 4 update by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Experts are struggling to understand Mers, for which there is no vaccine.

It is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine per cent of whom died.

Like Sars, Mers appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from a temperature, cough and breathing difficulty.

But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure and the extremely high death rate has caused serious concern.

In August, researchers pointed to Arabian camels as possible hosts of the virus.