The National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported 18 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in February 2020.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus
Image/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The cases were reported from Riyadh (seven cases), Hafer Albatin (two cases), Najran (two cases), Eastern (two cases), Aljouf (one case), Makkah (one case), Hail (one case), Taif (one case) and Jeddah (one case) regions.

In addition, five additional deaths were reported.

Since MERS was first reported in 2012, the total number of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV infection cases reported globally to WHO is 2538 with 871 associated deaths through the end of February.

Infection with MERS-CoV can cause severe disease resulting in high mortality. Humans are infected with MERS-CoV from direct or indirect contact with dromedaries. MERS-CoV has demonstrated the ability to transmit between humans. So far, the observed non-sustained human-to-human transmission has occurred mainly in health care settings.