New fight launched against deadly MERS virus

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A high-powered medical body has been tasked with trying to combat the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus as authorities work to stem the outbreak.

According to the latest World Health Organisation figures, 94 laboratory-confirmed and 16 probable cases of MERS-CoV have been reported to WHO since April 2012.

Of those, 47, or half of the reported cases, have resulted in deaths.

Affected countries in the Middle East include Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.

In Europe countries affected include France, Germany, the UK and Italy, while in Tunisia in North Africa has also been affected.

Following a meeting in Saudi, the newly-established Global Center for Mass Gathering Medicine has been assigned to monitor the developments related to MERS-coronavirus, the Saudi Gazette reports.

It is one of several recommendations made on Tuesday by the 2nd International Mass Gathering Medicine Conference in Riyadh.

The conference was organised by the Saudi Ministry of Health in collaboration with Arab League and WHO and attended by about 500 health representatives.

The resolution by the conference said: “Monitoring will include following the latest developments, related international studies and research, developing preventive measures against MERS, and setting up treatment protocols to benefit from all these in dealing with the disease in Haj, Umrah, and other mass gatherings anywhere in the world.”

The conference also recommended cooperation and coordination between GCMGM and other global centres for disease prevention, control, and research for early detection and action against any new emerging disease or outbreaks.

It emphasised the necessity to exchange information and experience regarding diseases, especially communicable ones, among governments, international organisations, and research centres.

The latest WHO update, published on August 13, said two cases were reported in the Asir region of Saudi Arabia with both showing previous contact with a confirmed case.

In a second cluster, an 83-year-old UAE resident died after being hospitalised in Abu Dhabi in July.

“Although infection prevention and control measures were reported to be in place and the patient was isolated, four secondary cases were reported in health care workers with exposure to the patient,” WHO said.

“Two of them developed a mild disease and the other two remained asymptomatic.”

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