CAIRO: Egypt has discovered its first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in an Egyptian citizen who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia, Egypt’s Ministry of Health said yesterday even as Riyadh announced five more deaths.
KUWAIT: Saudi Arabia said on Friday that it had discovered 14 more cases of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the kingdom, bringing the total number to 313.
A health ministry statement said the new cases had been reported in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah in the past 24 hours. Authorities had also registered five more deaths due to the virus, it said.
The jump in cases is of particular concern because Saudi Arabia will host pilgrims from around the world in July during the month of Ramadan, as well as in early October when millions of worshippers perform the annual Haj.
In total, 92 people have died of MERS in Saudi Arabia, the ministry said on its website.
Saudi Arabia has witnessed a jump in the rate of infection in recent weeks, with many of the new cases recorded in Jeddah. A large proportion of the people infected are health care workers.
Although the number of MERS infections worldwide is fairly small, the more than 40 percent death rate among confirmed cases and the spread of the virus beyond the Middle East is keeping scientists and public health officials on alert.
A spokesman for the World Health Organisation in Geneva said on Friday that it was “concerned” about the rising MERS numbers in Saudi Arabia. “This just highlights the need to learn more about the virus, about the transmission, and about the route of infection,” he said.
Saudi authorities say they have invited five leading international vaccine makers to collaborate with them in developing a MERS vaccine, but virology experts argue that this makes little sense in public health terms.