The deadly MERS virus seems to be spreading less and less, said the World Health Organization is a recent statement. This comes after the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus resulted in at least 315 deaths worldwide.
MERS has been reported in around 800 patients, most of whom live in Saudi Arabia. The virus can cause coughing, a fever, and pneumonia, which can prove to be fatal.
The virus surged in April in Saudi Arabia, but WHO reported on June 6th that the virus is spreading more slowly now.
“There have been significant efforts made to strengthen infection prevention and control measures,” it said. As a result, “the committee unanimously concluded that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not yet been met”
A PHEIC is defined as an event that threatens WHO member states and would require an immediate international response. Although MERS has not been classified as a PHEIC, WHO made it clear that it is still a concern, especially when it comes to religious pilgrimages through Saudi Arabia, which could perpetuate the spread of the virus.
WHO has urged countries that participate in religious events like the Haj or Ramadan to prepare for the disease. This includes offering public health tips or putting in infection prevention measures.
One of the biggest trips in the Muslim community, the annual trip to Mecca, is the biggest concern. Called the Haj, millions of Muslims will make the trip together, which could help the virus spread.
However, the Saudi government is taking MERS very seriously, and will be doing everything in its power to help prevent the disease spreading in the coming months.
“The Saudi government has made an extensive effort really to catch up on all the numbers and to provide them as quickly as possible,” reported Fukuda, an attendant of WHO’s meeting in Geneva. “I see a big amount of improvement taking place”.