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Middle East coronavirus: No reward for man behind discovery

(op-ed article) There is a new and deadly threat making its round in Saudi Arabia. It is the Mers, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and what makes this virus an ominous threat is that the majority of those who had contracted the disease died from it.

Saudi Arabia seems to be ground zero for the new Mers coronavirus, as more than 80 per cent of the cases involved Saudis and residents in the Kingdom. The disease is a distant relative of Sars, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome which created global concern back in 2003 when it was transmitted from animals to humans in Asia and killed some 800 people.

And not unlike Sars, the Mers virus causes an infection deep in the patient’s lungs, and infected patients end up suffering from a high fever, coughing and difficulty in breathing. Mers carries a stronger punch in that it also leads to rapid kidney failure.

Although the numbers of afflicted have been relatively small with some 40 confirmed cases so far, there is always an element of concern as four million Muslims from around the world had travelled to Saudi Arabia already this year to perform the pilgrimage known as Umrah, and public health experts are already worrying about whether the influx of pilgrims will lead to spreading Mers around the globe.

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