The World Health Organization has been meeting today in Cairo to dscuss how to respond to an outbreak of a virus, said to be very like SARS. SARS killed around 800 people in 2003, and spread panic around the globe.
The outbreak has already claimed 38 lives, mainly in Saudi Arabia. The WHO fears a new pandemic are are hoping to find a way to deal with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, dubbed MERS.
MERS has many similarities to SARS, the new virus begins with flu like symptoms, but after a short time behaves like a serious pneumonia. Around 60% of those who contract this new virus die, doctors who have treated people with MERS have said it is not an illness anyone wants to contract, as those who have it are close to death at all times.
So far cases have centred in Saudi Arabia, however health officials are concerned the virus will spread as the region will see very large numbers of pilgrims travel through the region in the coming months, with Ramadan starting next month, and the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in October.
When Muslim extremists stormed the US embassies in Libya and Cairo protestors pulled down the US flag and replaced it with the black banner of Salafism.
Salafism is a puritanical branch of Islam which teaches a literal interpretation of the Koran. Salafism has been on the rise throughout the Arab world since the Arab Spring, and it is being bank rolled by Saudi Arabia.
“There is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that Saudi money is financing the various Salafist groups,” said Samir Amghar, author of “Le salafisme d’aujourd’hui. Mouvements sectaires en Occident” (Contemporary Salafism: Sectarian movements in the West).