Saudi Arabia reports 10 new Mers deaths

Saudi Arabia's health ministry also identified 20 new cases of the Mers virus, pushing the total number of infections in the country to 511.

DOHA // Saudi Arabia reported that 10 more people infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome died over the last two days.

The health ministry also identified 20 new cases of the Mers virus, pushing the total number of infections in the country to 511.

Five Mers-related deaths were reported on Tuesday and another five on Wednesday, according to statements on the ministry’s website.

The latest cases pushed the death toll of Mers in the country to 157 since the first human cases emerged in Saudi Arabia in September 2012.

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday that while concern about the virus had “significantly increased”, the disease was not yet a global health emergency.

The rate of infection in Saudi Arabia has surged in recent weeks following big outbreaks associated with hospitals in Jeddah and Riyadh. The total number of infections nearly doubled in April and has risen by a further 25 percent so far in May.

The recent upsurge is of particular concern because of the influx of pilgrims from around the world expected in July during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The virus can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, and there is no vaccine or anti-viral treatment against it. Scientists around the world have been searching for the animal source of virus.

Research shows the Mers virus has been infecting animals for two decades, with bats and camels most likely to be transmitting the virus to humans.

*Reuters

Published: May 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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