Saudi Arabia reports two new cases of Sars-like Mers virus

A Muslim pilgrim wears a mask due to fears linked to the MERS virus, as she heads to noon prayers at the Nemra mosque, near Mount Arafat, on October 14, 2013.

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has recorded two new cases of the Mers virus, a day after the authorities in neighbouring Qatar reported one new case.

Saudi Arabia accounts for a full 52 of 127 deaths worldwide from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV) so far, while Qatar accounts for two.

The two new cases were both Saudis, the health ministry reported on its website: one a 72-year-old in Riyadh with pre-existing health problems, the other a 43-year-old in the commercial capital Jeddah.

The case in Qatar was of a 48-year-old foreign resident who had also been suffering from chronic illness.

Mers is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, 9 per cent of whom died, and sowed economic chaos. Since Mers first appeared in September last year, virtually of the deaths have been in the Gulf or among people who had recently travelled there.