The rate of new infection of the deadly MERS virus in the Middle East country of Saudi Arabia has slowed since the middle of May. Monday was the first day in six weeks that no new cases were reported. These figures were released by the Health Ministry of the Kingdom.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS was discovered first in Saudi Arabia over two years ago. Since that time, 562 people have been infected in the country with 179 of them dying. The virus causes pneumonia, flu-like symptoms and in some organ failure.
In April, there was a surge in new infections, which prompted the Kingdom’s King Abdullah to fire his health minister and led to much criticism of the control procedures in hospitals in the country. Concerns were also voiced that the government had not taken the MERS link to camels seriously.
Cases have been diagnosed in other countries such as Britain, France and the United States. The most recent case was detected in Iran. The majority of the cases are tied to people who had recently visited one of the Gulf Arab nations.
During the first two weeks of May, the daily amount of new cases diagnosed in Saudi Arabia was at 11, but over the past two weeks, that number has fallen to an average of 4 for new confirmed diagnoses, new figures showed.
On Monday night, the health ministry reported its first full day free of any new infections since mid April.
The amount of new patients soared throughout Saudi Arabia. The total number of cases that are confirmed was at 511 as of May 14, from only 173 as of the end of March.
Scientists around the world have complained that authorities in Saudi Arabia have not been forthcoming enough to work with them to help investigate the deadly disease. The Health Ministry in the Kingdom strongly denies those charges.