Saudi Arabia has announced that cases of the SARS-like virus Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [MERS] rose dramatically over the previous week, afflicting at least 50 individuals, with 20 new cases being reported during the weekend and an additional 13 on Monday; at least seven of those have already succumbed to the illness.
According to the World Health Organization [WHO] the novel coronavirus, which was first discovered in September 2012, has stricken 243 people globally while killing 93, representing a death in over one-third of all reported cases; the report does not include the cases identified over the previous three days.
(Note: Numbers of ill and dead vary wildly across various news sites, from 243 to 293 and 76 to 94, respectively.)
The spike in cases has prompted the royal Authority in Saudi Arabia to sack their current health minister; while the move seems to acknowledge that more could have been done to address the virus, they remain hesitant to issue travel restrictions at this time, as does the WHO.
Philippine Authority is not waiting for others to act however, demanding that all passengers from one flight originating in the Middle East be tested for MERS; they have also issued a general 'quarantine bulletin' for any persons arriving from the Arabian peninsula.
International scientist: "For crying out loud, Saudi Arabia, get ahead of this thing." #MERS http://t.co/flYk5Gtbrd
— Ellen Knickmeyer (@EllenKnickmeyer) April 19, 2014
These latest cases have researchers across the globe increasingly alarmed, prompting with one learned scientist in Australia to take to his blog in a rather undignified manner and plead with Saudi Arabia to "get ahead of this thing."
The US Centers for Disease Control [CDC] states on their website that those, "who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness... fever, cough, and shortness of breath." While the CDC puts the mortality rate at "about half" of those afflicted, the recent WHO report disputes those averages.
There is currently no cure - nor any form of fully-tested treatment - for MERS.
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