The death toll in Saudi Arabia due to the new SARS-like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has reached 34, the kingdom's ministry of health said on Monday.
The ministry likewise revealed it has a fresh set of six new cases, making the total number thus far of global infections to 70. Since being identified in 2012, there have been a total thus far of 39 global deaths, the most of which come from Saudi Arabia.
Although there is no evidence yet of uninterrupted human-to-human transmission, the MERS-CoV has been observed to be easily transmissible in healthcare environments and is more deadly than SARS, prompting the Saudi Arabia government to urge Hajj pilgrims to postpone their ritual plans to next year.
"The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world," Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, said at the 66th World Health Assembly in May. "Through WHO and the IHR, we need to bring together the assets of the entire world in order to adequately address this threat. We need more information, and we need it quickly, urgently."
To date, the MERS-CoV, apart from Saudi Arabia, has been found in Jordan Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the U.K.