S Arabia announces four more Mers deaths

28 Aug 2015


Saudi Arabia has announced four more deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), which took the number of deaths in the past week to 17.

Health officials admitted the timing was particularly worrisome, as the kingdom prepared to welcome around 2 million Muslims for the Hajj next month.

The Mers virus had hit several countries across the Middle East, Europe and Asia. It first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

According to The World Health Organization (WHO) many of the recent cases were associated with an outbreak at a hospital in Riyadh.

Mers is caused by a type of coronavirus. Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the common cold are also infections of different types of coronavirus.

Mers had taken a toll of 515 lives globally since September 2012, the WHO reported.

Including the latest surge, the kingdom's Health Ministry had recorded 502 fatalities and 1,171 reported cases since June 2012 when the virus first appeared Agence France-Presse reported.

At least 46 people including hospital staff had contracted the disease at one of the capital's largest hospitals, following which health authorities shut down the emergency ward there.

Though the Mers infection is considered deadlier than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), it is less infectious. SARS killed hundreds of people in China in 2003.

The symptoms of Mers include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. There are no vaccines against Mers which is believed to originate in camels.

it has spread  to south East Asia through travellers coming from the Mid East. In June the South Korean health ministry reported eight more cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bringing the total number of affected people in the country to 95. (See: MERS cases in South Korea rise to 95, seven dead)

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