Mumbai: A newly discovered SARS like virus has killed 45 people worldwide. The virus, which has been discovered around Gulf countries, is worrying scientists as they are not able to ascertain the origin and nature of the virus.
After swine flu and avian flu, Mers - a new mutated strain of the coronavirus, which has hit the Gulf countries, is also worrying the people as not much is known about it.
85 cases have been reported from four Gulf countries - Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Sporadic cases have also resulted in Germany, UK and France. The most recent deaths have been reported from Saudi Arabia.
Those infected with the virus developed severe pneumonia along with fever, cough and shortness of breath. It is not exactly known how people contracted this virus, but so far, it has only been through close physical contact from ill people. Most of the cases reported were of the older men with underlying health conditions.
Those infected with the virus developed severe pneumonia along with fever, cough and shortness of breath. Unlike swine flu, its spread has been quite slow.
The World Health Organisation has called it a threat to the world.
"The WHO convened an emergency meeting of international experts in Geneva, for the first time since the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic," Dr Om Srivastava, Head - Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital, told CNN-IBN.
The Saudi government has cautioned the elderly who are making the HAJ pilgrimage. Air India has also issued a circular advising its staff to maintain hygiene and avoid proximity with the passengers. Meanwhile the staff is not satisfied with the move.
"That's not enough - we travel in closed space, which adds to danger," a cabin crew member said.
However, as of now no travel travel restrictions or airport screenings have been imposed in place. More than 12-1500 passengers travel between Saudi Arabia to various Indian cities on a daily basis, which is likely to increase following the Haj.
The situation is still evolving but even though there are more questions than answers, the WHO has stressed that there is no need to panic yet.