Sharp Rise in MERS Cases as Virus Spreads

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11 new cases of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) were announced by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia. Recently, the UAE saw ten infections in an Abu Dhabi hospital and on Tuesday, Jordan also reported a patient, diagnosed with the virus. The World Health Organization is concerned with the sharp rise in MERS cases.

Health officials in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced 11 cases of the MERS virus. Six of the patients are in Jeddah, while four of them were diagnosed in the capital, Riyadh. For the first time, the virus is spreading to the holy city Mecca – a 24-year-old Saudi man was diagnosed with it, although he hasn’t showed any symptoms yet. The spike in MERS cases is concerning for Saudi Arabia, as well as for the World Health Organization, as thousands of pilgrims will gather in July for the month of Ramadan. And in October, the country expects millions of people to arrive for the annual Haj in Mecca and Medina.

On Tuesday, a 25-year-old Saudi citizen was found positive for the disease in Jordan. Cases were also found in Malaysia and Greece. On 18 April, a 69-year-old Greek national, who resides permanently in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was hospitalized after arriving from the Middle East. He had prolonged fever, diarrhea and pneumonia and tested positive for MERS.

According to the latest data from WHO from Wednesday, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS coronavirus has reached 253, including 93 deaths. However, this is an official statistic, which doesn’t include many of the isolated cases. In reality, the virus may have infected many more people, but as some patients do not have serious symptoms and tend to recover easily, there is no way to tell the actual number of infections. The recent jump in cases is alarming, say experts.

While since its detection in humans in September 2012, the virus has infected around 150 people for a year and a half, now the outbreak seems more severe. The Health Ministry of Saudi Arabia says there have been around 50 cases this week, but some media reports claim they have reached 80. The total number of cases according to Global News and Business Insider is over 360.

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