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Saudi Arabia MERS death toll raises to 282

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An Indian worker wears a mask next to camels as he works at his Saudi employer’s farm outside Riyadh on May 12, 2014.

Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry has raised the death toll from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to 282.

In a Tuesday statement, the figure, which earlier stood at 190, rose to 282 following “a comprehensive revision” going back to 2012.

The number of the infected also rose from 575 to 688 people, the statement added.

Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Tariq Madani said the number of those contracting the disease was shrinking despite the revised figures.

“Though the review showed confirmed cases that needed to be added, we are still witnessing a decline in the number of newly registered cases in the past few weeks,” Madani said.

MERS is a cousin of SARS. The virus first emerged in the Middle East, and was discovered in September 2012 in a Qatari man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia.

The virus, which causes coughing, fever and pneumonia, does not appear to be as contagious as SARS, which killed some 800 people in a 2003 epidemic.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, MERS has been reported in the Persian Gulf countries, France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain.

While no travel restrictions have been announced, the World Health Orginization has urged health authorities across the world to maintain vigilance.


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