Confirmed cases of the terrifying virus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have risen in the past year. It is a contagious disease that causes coughing, fever and sometimes pneumonia.

On Friday, the MERS World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern. Every year, tens of thousands of people get the virus from animals such as camels. The MERS virus, which usually does not spread person to person, has had a big jump in 2018, though the WHO says the epidemic is “very difficult to identify and link.”

The WHO, along with the governments of Oman, Omani Health Secretary Hasan al-Ezzem, and the European Union, is trying to equip the public with masks that could help ward off the disease.

The authorities and the private sector will release masks across major international airports in Oman, and the masks will be free on arrival, BBC reports. It says that 11 MERS cases have been confirmed in Oman this year, with 11 more thought to be in the process of being confirmed.

In Saudi Arabia, the second most affected country, the WHO is looking to replace traditional q-rays with automatic equipment, which may not expose one’s nose, which can cause irritation if carried improperly.

The masks will be available in airports across the United Arab Emirates and Algeria, which have both reported MERS cases in the past year. The equipment could also be a priority in India, where two people died of the disease this week. The country could also order the equipment through the World Bank.

Read the full story at the Guardian.


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