MERS death toll grows as Saudi Arabia reports more cases

This undated image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an electron microscope image of a coronavirus, part of a family of viruses that cause ailments including the common cold and SARS, which was first identified last year in the Middle East. British officials say a mysterious virus related to SARS may have spread between humans, as they confirmed the 11th case worldwide of the new coronavirus in a patient who they say probably caught it from a family member. Officials at the World Health Organization said the new virus has probably already spread between humans in some instances. (AP Photo/Health Protection Agency)
AP Photo/Health Protection Agency

RIYADH, Saudi ArabiaMERS, an infectious disease called a coronavirus that has sickened more than 60 people since last Sept., has claimed four more lives.

Saudi Arabia announced Monday that four more people have died from the new respiratory virus which is related to SARS, bringing the total number of deaths to 32 in the kingdom at the center of the growing crisis.

Overall, nearly 40 people have died from the virus since September, mostly in Europe and the Middle East. That's according to local officials and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and the U.K, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported (CDC).

The Saudi Health Ministry also said on Monday that it confirmed three more cases of the virus, including in a 2-year-old child. Officials are still seeking clues on how easily it is spread between humans.

The new virus is related to SARS, which killed some 800 people in a global epidemic in 2003, and belongs to a family of viruses that most often causes the common cold.

As the WHO continues the monitor the situation, no special restrictions on travel and trade have been recommended by the agency.

Health care facilities that provide care to patients with MERS are reminded to take precautions to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients and health care workers.