Via Bloomberg: Saudi Arabia Seeks to Ease Concerns After New MERS Cases. Excerpt:
The government of Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure its citizens that the most recent outbreak of a respiratory virus isn’t a cause for alarm following 16 new cases, including two deaths, reported in the last nine days.
The Saudi health ministry sent text messages through local carriers yesterday asking the country’s 30 million residents to check its website, call a free hotline and check its official Twitter account for updates on the coronavirus, which causes Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome or MERS. The virus doesn’t spread easily between people, and no cases have been observed related to crowds, in schools or at football stadiums, the Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a ministry official.
Almost 230 people are known to have been infected since the virus emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, and 92 of them have died, according to the World Health Organization. Much about the disease and how it’s transmitted is still unknown, making it a concern, said David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“Whenever there’s an emerging infection from the animal kingdom into humans, it’s a cause for alarm,” Heymann said. “These are random events, and should this virus mutate tomorrow in a way that could infect people, it could be very serious.”