It’s almost like God is not terribly fond of the Haj. SARS has an 8 percent fatality rate. This new Mecca virus has a 65 percent fatality rate.
If I were a Muslim pondering going into the suicide bomber business in the hopes of an afterlife full of virgins and fresh dates, this is the sort of thing that might make me reconsider a career in air conditioner repair instead.
Saudi Arabia is the centre of an outbreak of the deadly new virus, named Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, that is similar to the SARS virus that killed hundreds of people world-wide in the early 2000s and infected thousands more.
Vicky Sheppeard, the director of the Communicable Disease Branch within NSW Health, said the gathering of more than 3 million people in one place drastically increases the risk of disease.
So far the World Health Organisation says there have been 94 laboratory-confirmed and 16 probable cases of human infection with the virus, and approximately half of the people who have contracted it have died.
The head of the clinical research team at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Professor Robert Booy, told Fairfax that the more infections that occurred, the more likely the virus was to mutate.
”The people who are getting the virus at the moment are dying of pneumonia, and one in two of them are dying,” he said.
So this virus could basically be Saudi AIDS. It could even do for the Haj what AIDS did for gay bathhouses.
Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, previously called MERS a “threat to the entire world”.
That’s the second threat to the entire world to come out of Mecca.