Saudi Arabia reported on Sunday, August 23, six new cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). This is even more alarming since it is the latest sign of MERS viral disease spreading ahead of an annual religious pilgrimage that will bring millions of visitors to the country. 

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is caused by a virus that is related to the virus which caused the world SARS epideming the the year 2003. MERS had been signled in the Gulf states for the last three years, however it has been triggering an international alarm when an outbreak was also signaled in Korea.

There was international criticism earlier in the MERS outbreak because the Kingdom's government was not being transparent enough with information about where the infection was going.

The Saudi Ministry of Health, as a result, now makes near-daily online reports of any new MERS cases on the kingdom. However, things had been quiet beginning in June, with not many new cases reported. The average of new cases in Saudi Arabia was in this period at most one per week.

But in mid-July the numbers sudden began to pile up again. Two new MERS cases were reported on July 13, a new one on July 16, one on July 21, and the list goes on. Since Aug. 3, there has been at least one new case of MERS in Saudi Arabia every day. Until now, altogether, there were 76 new MERS cases confirmed this month, while in Kore there has not been a case of MERS since July.

It seems that rather suddenly, the MERS virus has picked up activity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country where it got started. This is of high concern, because Saudi Arabia will host in a month millions of temporary visitors from all over the world, making their mandatory pilgrimage known as the hajj.