MERS virus likely to show up in Australia

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
By Paul Martin

May 28, 2014

MARK COLVIN: A deadly virus spreading through the Middle East has now killed almost 200 people.

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, was first identified two years ago. It’s spread from camels to people including doctors and nurses caring for the sick. It’s a relative of SARS, the mystery virus that killed about 800 people in 2002.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, says it’s likely we will get a case here but authorities are prepared.

Medical reporter Sophie Scott.

SOPHIE SCOTT: Sydney man Bilal el-Hayek leads regular pilgrimages to the Islamic holy site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

BILAL EL-HAYEK: People want to cleanse themselves. They go there to repent, they go there to strengthen their spirituality with God.

SOPHIE SCOTT: He’s just returned from a trip and plans to go later this year, but it’s in group gatherings such as Mecca where health authorities are concerned a deadly Middle Eastern virus could proliferate.

BILAL EL-HAYEK: We just came back three or four weeks ago. We heard about the virus while we were in Saudi Arabia but we weren’t too worried about it to be honest.

The Rest…HERE

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