Saudi Arabia records 13 further MERS virus deaths
Around 565 people have contracted the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia according to health officials (File/AFP)
Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry has recorded 13 more deaths from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the kingdom.
The ministry said on Wednesday that a total of 186 have died from the virus since it first appeared in the country in 2012.
It added that some 565 people had contracted the virus in Saudi Arabia.
MERS is a cousin of SARS. The former virus first emerged in the Middle East and was discovered in September 2012 in a Qatari man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia.
The virus, which causes coughing, fever and pneumonia, does not appear to be as contagious as SARS, which infected some 8,273 people and killed about 10 percent of them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said earlier this month that the spread of the disease has become more serious, but does not yet constitute a global health emergency.
The WHO asked governments to make sure the necessary measures were implemented in all healthcare facilities in order to contain the infection.
In addition to Saudi Arabia -- hit by the virus the worst -- MERS has been reported in 16 other countries including some Persian Gulf states, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain.
According to a study, the virus has been “extraordinarily common” in camels for at least two decades, and may have been passed directly from animals to humans.