Public fears have been fueled by a rapid rise in the number of cases since the virus was identified in 2012. Confirmed new cases emerged in the cities of Jeddah, Tabuk and Riyadh, and the new fatalities range in age from nine months to 84 years, the Saudi Health Ministry said.
The MERS virus is of the same family as the common cold, and attacks the respiratory system. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said. Health officials stress hygiene, including repeated hand-washing, to limit the spread of the virus.
People have died of the infection in Tunisia and in several European countries. All, though, contracted the disease in the Middle East before they were diagnosed.
The Saudi Health Ministry has set up specialized health care centers in the cities of Najran, Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam. Egypt reported its first MERS case over the weekend in a man who had been living and working in Riyadh.