Health authorities in Saudi Arabia have reported three more fatalities from the MERS respiratory virus, taking the death toll in the world’s worst-hit country to 163. The health ministry website also revealed on Saturday that 520 cases have been recorded in the country since MERS appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It said three women died on Friday; a 48-year-old in Riyadh, a 67-year-old in Taif, and woman in Jeddah whose age was not disclosed. A spate of cases among staff at King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah last month sparked public panic and the dismissal of its director and the health minister. Other nations including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, the UAE and the US have also recorded cases, mostly in people who had been to Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said its emergency committee, which includes global medical and policy experts, had flagged mounting concerns about the potentially fatal virus. The WHO called on countries to improve infection prevention and control, collect more data on MERS and to be vigilant in preventing it from spreading to vulnerable countries, notably in Africa. More
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