The variants are the same as the ones seen in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but their genetic sequence is different. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that it is still too early to determine if this will lead to a different or more severe form of the disease.
When did the new variants of coronavirus started spreading?
So far there have been 33 confirmed cases of MERS coronavirus in Saudi Arabia with 24 deaths and 3 people who are still fighting for their lives. The newest variant of MERS coronavirus, which was recently detected, is different from those seen earlier this year in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. However, WHO believes it’s too early to tell if these differences mean that new mutation presents a higher risk for infection or makes the virus more severe.
“At this stage there is no basis for considering the new virus as an increased threat to public health.” – said Dr W.H.O. Chan, said on Friday at WHO in Geneva.
In fact, MERS coronavirus has a high mortality rate of around 40%, but this figure is likely to come down now that doctors have better diagnostic tests and treatments available. Nonetheless, it is important to note that there are still cases in the Arabian Peninsula and the WHO is urging more effective surveillance and laboratory testing methods in order to identify people who are infected with this disease before they can spread it further.
What do we know about MERS coronavirus?
MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) is an emerging pathogen of humans, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It belongs to the Family Coronaviridae, genus betacoronavirus. To date (September 2013), a total of 99 cases including 40 deaths have been officially reported by WHO. The virus is harbored in dromedary camels and other species such as dogs, cats and goats. The natural reservoir had not yet been identified up to now although recent studies suggest bats may also play a role in its transmission.
On May 20, 2013 the first case of MERS-CoV infection was reported in France. This patient was a 65 years-old man who had been admitted to a hospital in Valenciennes (Northern France) on April 28, with acute respiratory failure. He had travelled to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) in April 2013 where he underwent medical procedures. The scenario and circumstances of this case are being investigated by the French National Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS). According to the Saudi Arabian Authorities no other confirmed cases had ever been reported in France till date.
Since then, only 2 other cases were reported for Spain and Germany with 1 death for each one.
As of April 2015, the WHO reports that there are 2,097 cases of MERS coronavirus. These include 954 deaths. As of 31 May 2015, the WHO reports that there are 1,873 cases of MERS coronavirus. These include 979 deaths. The number is a decrease from the 1,884 cases and 942 deaths reported on 30 May 2015 by WHO. As of May 5 2015, the WHO reports that there are 157 cases of MERS coronavirus with 70 deaths as a total since September 2012 up to May 5th 2015.