Tunisian Man is Latest Coronavirus Fatality

A 66-year-old Tunisian man who died after returning from a pilgrimage to the Saudi holy city of Mecca is likely to have been sickened by a SARS-like virus and two of his children tested positive for the virus, Tunisian and World Health Organization officials said Tuesday.

The cases mark the ninth country, and third continent, on which the year-old novel coronavirus has been confirmed. They also are the second time a pilgrim to Mecca has fallen ill with the SARS-like virus; a pilgrim from Britain died of it after infecting two family members in Britain, officials there said in February.

The new infections, which show the virus continues to move into new countries, are likely to prompt worries ahead of the peak Islamic pilgrimage periods in Saudi Arabia this summer and autumn. They also raise concerns over how easily the virus is being transferred between people.

The Tunisian man returned from a weekslong trip to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on May 6, and died May 10, a spokesman for Tunisia’s national observatory for infectious diseases said. A 35-year-old daughter who had traveled with the man and became infected fell ill but recovered at home, said the spokesman. A 34-year-old son didn’t fall sick, but tested positive for the virus, the Tunisian official said.

Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, said health officials consider the father a probable but not confirmed case.

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