Panic grips pilgrims as MERS spreads in Saudi


An expat in Taif has been infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS coronavirus, the Health Ministry reported on Tuesday.

“The 40-year-old worker was suffering from various diseases,” the ministry stated, adding that he has been admitted to the ICU of a local hospital for specialized treatment.

The ministry reported another MERS case in Hanakiya near Madinah during the past 24 hours. The 70-year-old man who used to mix with animals has been hospitalized.

Meanwhile, a Saudi woman travelling to Austria was also found infected with the deadly virus. She is being treated in a Vienna hospital, according to reports on Tuesday.

Confirming the first MERS case in the Alpine country, the Austrian Health ministry said the woman, who had arrived in Austria a few days earlier, fell sick and was later diagnosed with the virus after being isolated.

Another statement by the Austrian health authorities said: “The female patient from Saudi Arabia is responding to therapy and is on the path to a stable condition.”

Anis Sindi, vice president of the Health Ministry’s Command and Control Center, said the government was committed to fighting contagious diseases during Haj.

However, he said many people traveling to the Kingdom are worried because of the recent new MERS cases in some parts of the country.

The ministry is working with various national and international agencies including the WHO to combat the virus, which originates from camels.

The ministry has produced a new application for pilgrims. The HajjApp, which can be downloaded from the Google Play store, provides pilgrims with daily health advice and information on the location of health facilities.

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