Saudi Arabia’s MERS Death Toll Reaches 400

The Kingdom also reported four new cases of MERS infections, bringing the total number of infections to 931 since 2012.



Four people have succumbed to the Middle East Respiratory syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia, bringing the total death toll to 400, the Ministry of Health reported in a bulletin on Tuesday.

Three out of the four victims were Saudi citizens while the fourth was a foreign worker, the ministry said.

Meanwhile four new infections were also reported this week, bringing the total number of infected cases to 931 in the Kingdom, local daily Arab News reported. The condition of two recently affected victims was reported to be critical.

MERS is a respiratory disease that causes coughing, fever and breathing problems, and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

The virus is known to have infected more than a thousand people worldwide, with the vast majority in Saudi Arabia.

Experts have been worried about a seasonal surge in MERS infections during the early part of the year, a trend that seems to be repeating in 2015 as well.

Official statistics show that more than 50 people were infected in February alone, one of the highest monthly rates since MERS first emerged among humans in 2012.

Recently, a team consisting of human and animal experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other UN agencies flew to Saudi Arabia for a more detailed investigation.

The investigation comes at the heels of a statement by WHO, expressing its concern at the spread of MERS in Saudi and its potential to spread internationally if left uncontrolled.

Global experts have also criticised Saudi Arabia for not putting in place enough measure to curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“Critical gaps in knowledge remain, and several challenges … will require further work,” a group of experts from various UN agencies said in a joint statement.

“How and why infections occur in the community is yet to be understood, and this is critical for stopping the outbreak.”

MERS hails from the same family as the virus that caused a deadly outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in China in 2003.

There is no cure or vaccine for MERS, which kills around 40 per cent of its victims. The virus is known to be contracted through exposure to infected individuals, from hospitals and by a direct contact with camels -known to be carriers of the virus.