Saudi Arabia says MERS Virus Cases Top 300, 5 More Die
April 26, 2014 1:44 PM EST
Saudi Arabia said on Friday it had discovered 14 more cases of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the kingdom, bringing the total number to 313.
Saudi Arabia replaces health minister amid MERS virus fears
A health ministry statement said the new cases had been reported in the capital Riyadh, the coastal city of Jeddah and the "holy capital" Mecca 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 Muslim 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, the kingdom's second-largest city. A large proportion of the people infected are healthcare workers.
MERS emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and is from the same family as the SARS virus, which killed around 800 people worldwide after first appearing in China in 2002. MERS can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia.
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 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 Arabia's King Abdullah replaced the health minister last week after growing public concern about the spread of the disease.
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.
Most Popular Slideshows
- Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt Heads to Malta For New Movie After A Whirlwind French Wedding [PHOTOS]
- Prince William & Kate Middleton Caught Flirting In A Countryside Dinner Date [PHOTOS]
- Chris Martin Getting Serious With Jennifer Lawrence, Actress Joining Coldplay Tour [PHOTOS]
- 2014 US Open Update (Day 4 - Men's Singles): Murray, Djokovic, Raonic and Isner Advance to 3rd Round [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- MH370 Update: Australians Unveil New Map To Find The Missing Plane
- Court Grants Indian Man Divorce Over Wife’s Insatiable Sex Demands
- Ebola Virus 'Rapidly Mutating' as Research Finds Almost 400 Mutations; International Aid Moves at a Snail's Pace
- ISIS Threat: Australia Terror Alert Level at 'Medium' as Saudi King Warns of Attacks in Europe in a Month
- Shocking Ice Bucket Challenge Video: Man Drenches 10-Month-Old Granddaughter, Video Garnered Angry And Appalled Comments From Viewers
- Apple iPhone 6 Actual Release Date after September 9 Confirmed 128GB Variant with New Resolution
- Pricey iPhone 6 on Release Date Likely but with 3X Retina Resolution & Mobile Payment Service – Reports
- Moto G2 Release Roundup: Specs, Pricing, and Release Date Details
- PlayStation 4 Killing Xbox One Costing Microsoft Millions But It's Fine
- Google Nexus 8 Confirmed as HTC T1 aka Volantis/Flounder with Freshly-Leaked Specs & Features – Reports
- Nexus 6 on Release Date Confirmed with Phablet-Size Display as FCC Filing Hints of 5.9-Inch Screen
- Europe, US Next on ISIS’ Hit List, Says Saudi King; Seized ISIS Laptop Reveals Terrifying Bio-Warfare Plans