MERS Death Toll Worse Than Realised, Says WHO

The spread of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is much worse than previously suspected, according to a new look at health figures.

At the last official count, MERS was blamed for 190 deaths from 575 reported cases worldwide – a mortality rate of 33%.

Now, World Health Organisation (WHO) doctors have revisited the records and found that the true number of cases is 688 with 282 deaths – a mortality rate of 41%.

Cases have been reported around the world, but are mainly in Saudi Arabia, with a few in the United Arab Emirates.

Cases in the UK, USA and Europe are attributed to visitors catching the virus while visiting Saudi Arabia and then flying home.

MERS suffered exhibit sever symptoms of fever, coughing and pneumonia.

The virus was previously unreported in humans and restricted to camels and monkeys, but somehow, the virus mutated and jumped across species. One reason is thought to be people eating infected camel meat.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is warning expats and travellers in Saudi Arabia to take care.

The WHO has rapped Saudi medical authorities for low hospital standards that have led to the spread of the virus. As a result, the health minister was sacked and replaced.

Thai curfew lifted

The new Thai military government has lifted the midnight to 4am curfew between June 9, 2014 and June 13, 2014 for Koh Phangan island town of Had Rin’s full moon party. The curfew is still in place for the rest of the country – except for travellers using airports.

Anyone flying in or out can travel as normal, providing they have their passports and air tickets with them to prove they are not breaching the curfew.

South Africa immigration update

New immigration rules affect families travelling with children from May 26, 2014.

Parents may have to show a child’s full birth certificate, and if only one parent is travelling with one or more children, they may have to show proof they have parental or other authority to take the child in or out of the country.

Expats who are resident in South Africa also need a valid residence permit when they enter or leave the country.

The government has stopped fining expats for failing to have a valid permit and instead, blocks visas and entry to the country for any time between 12 months and five years.

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