On Sunday, Saudi Arabia reported six new diagnoses of the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. This number of new cases, which is the biggest since the last MERS outbreak in the middle of 2014, comes as Saudi Arabia is planning to welcome more than two million people to the Islamic holy city of Mecca for the yearly hajj.
MERS OUTBREAK POSES THREAT TO THE UPCOMING HAJJ
The danger of this virus spreading could very well increase as around 5 million Saudi students begin school on Monday after their summer vacation. In a statement on Saturday from the secretary for public health, he reports that the Ministry of Health is working alongside other public health authorities and agencies to contain the MERS infection.
MERS IS A PART OF THE SAME FAMILY AS THE COMMON COLD AND SARS
MERS a part of the same group of infections as SARS, which is spread in Hong Kong and southern China in both 2002 and 2003, and the common cold. It causes shortness of breath, fever, pneumonia and kidney failure.
The kingdom is currently considering a ban on sacrificing camels and sharing their meat with the poor during the hajj. This is a measure that is intended to stop the spread of the virus. The spread of the virus is believed to have started from infected camels to humans.
IN THE PAST, SAUDI ARABIA HAS BEEN CRITICIZED ON HOW THEY HANDLED PREVIOUS OUTBREAKS
During outbreaks in the past, Saudi Arabia has been criticized for what international health groups call a slow response leading to the outbreak of the MERS virus. Since the infection initially showed up in the region in 2012, the virus has infected more than 1,100 individuals and killed more than 480 people, as indicated by the Saudi Health Ministry. The main hospital in Riyadh, King Abdulaziz Medical City of the National Guard in Riyadh, emergency center and outpatient clinics stayed closed Sunday following the infection of a number of the patients and workers.
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