By Md Rasooldeen
Riyadh: The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has killed three more people and infected four others over the past few days, the Ministry of Health announced Friday.
This comes in the wake of the World Health Organization (WHO) expressing rising concern over the spread of MERS in the Kingdom.
The victims of the virus over the last two days were all expatriates, two women aged 34 and 58, and a 37-year-old man. The four people infected are all Saudis, three men and one woman from Al-Kharj, which is 60 km from the Riyadh city center.
The statistics of the ministry now show that 365 people have died from the disease since 2012, out of 852 cases. Twelve people are currently under treatment at government hospitals throughout the Kingdom, while 475 have recovered completely.
On Thursday, the WHO said it remained worried about the spread of MERS. “Although the pattern of transmission appears relatively unchanged, the overall situation and the possibility of it spreading internationally remains of concern,” the WHO said.
“Increased surveillance in many countries is needed to better monitor trends related to the spread of this virus.” Globally it has infected at least 965 people, of whom 357 have died.
MERS, a form of coronavirus such as the more deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus, can cause fever, coughing, shortness of breath and pneumonia.
However, it is not easy to transmit between people and the WHO has not advised any travel restrictions for Saudi Arabia. Scientists say the most likely animal reservoir, from which more people are becoming infected, is Saudi Arabia’s population of camels.
“The government is doing its best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We now need the help of the public in implementing simple precautions to prevent its spread,” a ministry official said.
He said the government’s campaign is based on expert medical advice from respected organizations and health care professionals. People should take extra precautions with raw camel meat, he said.
“Based on expert advice, people should avoid raw camel meat and liver and unpasteurized camel milk.” Meat must be cooked well, he said.
Experts from the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States were hired by the ministry to monitor and control the spread of the disease.