MERS Virus Spreads among Countries

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As Saudi Arabia is welcoming thousands of pilgrims for Umrah, the new MERS coronavirus continues to spread in different countries. According to WHO, there have been 701 laboratory-confirmed cases, including 249 deaths, with the latest infections found in Bangladesh and Algeria.

Since the first detection of the virus in September 2012, now known as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or MERS, Saudi Arabia has reported the largest number of cases. The infection sweeps through the country, killing almost half of the patients – nearly 200 of all 402 ill people have died from the disease. The World Health Organization announced on Monday, 16th June, that globally, the number of cases has reached 701, including at least 249 related deaths.

According to the WHO update from 13th June, the National IHR Focal Points of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Islamic Republic of Iran reported additional MERS cases. Between 11 April and 9 June, the kingdom notified the UN’s health agency of 515 cases, of which 402 laboratory-confirmed and another 113, identified through reviewing medical data. 32 patients were found in Medina, 132 people in the capital Riyadh, and 208 patients were from the Mecca Province. According to the Saudi Health Ministry, 114 of them have died and another 38 deaths were announced on Monday.

Although health authorities in the UAE had previously said that no MERS patients were under treatment in the country’s hospitals, on 4 June, a 36-year-old butcher living in Abu Dhabi was diagnosed with the infection. Unlike most of the cases, the man did not travel had no contact with a sick person. However, he worked in a local slaughter house for sheep and camels. Meanwhile, Iran also confirmed a MERS infection. This is the second case in the country and is in a 35-year-old female nurse assistant.
On Saturday, 14 June, Algeria also reported cases of MERS for the first time. Both a 66-year-old and 59-year-old men traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and became ill. Although they were hospitalized and treated, one of them died from multi-organ failure.

On Sunday, Bangladesh became the 22nd country to report a case of the deadly MERS virus. The patient is a 53-year-old Bangladesh-born man who lives in the US. According to Mahmudur Rahman, Direcor of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, he got infected with the virus while travelling to his home country via Abu Dhabi – during the 3-hour stay at the airport or even in the plane.

The deadly MERS virus keeps spreading across countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Germany, the UK, the US and others.

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