The Jordanian Ministry of Health reported three additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection yesterday, adding to the ongoing investigation into the cluster of cases.

Saudi Arabia
Middle East Image/W123 via Wikimedia commons

Jordan has reported 11 MERS cases during the past 16 days, all apparently linked to a returning traveler to Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia, new cases have been reported from Riyadh (2) and Medina (3), in which two of the Medina patients have been transferred to Riyadh area hospitals.

As of Thursday, 1228 MERS cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, including 521 deaths (42% CFR).

The surge in cases in Saudi Arabia is raising concerns as the start of the Hajj pilgrimage is soon to commence. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that many pilgrims will return to countries with weak surveillance and health systems.

The recent outbreak in the Republic of Korea demonstrated that when the MERS virus appears in a new setting, there is great potential for widespread transmission and severe disruption to the health system and to society.

In August, WHO published the interim guidance, Considerations for mass gathering events and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS – CoV), for hosts of international mass gatherings with proposed steps to improve public health preparedness to prevent, contain, and mitigate the impact of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Hajj is expected to fall between September 21-26, 2015.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

Follow @bactiman63