Although Ebola is clearly dominating international news with horrifying statistics being released every day, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry reminded about the threat of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. The potentially deadly MERS returns in the news with reports about 23 new cases in Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, the Health Ministry of Saudi Arabia warned that the MERS coronavirus isn’t yet defeated and people should adhere to preventative measures such as avoiding direct contact with sick animals. There has been an increase in the cases in October, according to the ministry, which announced that 23 new infections have been confirmed across the kingdom. Seven of them have been reported in the capital Riyadh, six in Makkah, five in Taif, and Madinah, al-Jouf, Najran, Hofuf and Jubail have each one patient, as well. Three of the infected individuals are said to be healthcare workers.
According to estimates by the ministry, with the 23 new cases, the total number of MERS infections in the kingdom has reached 777. This includes the 331 deaths from the disease since its first detection two years ago. In September, there were another 12 cases, according to the health authorities in Saudi Arabia. However, the virus has also appeared across the Middle East and Europe and official statistics from the World Health Organization show that as of October 24, 2014, the total number of MERS infections has reached 883 globally, including at least 319 related deaths. But the WHO doesn’t include all cases from Saudi Arabia, as they were not all laboratory-confirmed according to its standards.
Besides Saudi Arabia, two other countries have recently reported cases of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. On October 2, the national IHR Focal Point for Austria notified the WHO of a MERS infection in Vienna, Austria. The patient is a 29-year-old female citizen of Saudi Arabia, who traveled from Affif to Vienna. After feeling sick, she was hospitalized and diagnosed with MERS. Turkey also confirmed the first MERS case in the country on October 17.It was a 42-year-old Turkish citizen who worked in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and saw a doctor as he felt sick. However, after his symptoms worsened, he retuned to Turkey and died on October 11.