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Saudi health minister sacked as Mers death toll rises

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The Saudi health minister has been sacked without explanation, as the Mers coronavirus death toll there climbed to 81.

Abdullah al-Rabiah was dismissed just days after visiting hospitals in Jeddah to calm a public hit by panic over the spread of the respiratory virus.

Saudi has registered the largest number of infections of Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

The ministry said it had registered 261 cases of infection across the kingdom.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has been informed of 243 laboratory-confirmed cases worldwide, including 93 deaths since the virus was first discovered in September 2012.

The WHO, which has been monitoring the global situation, says there is currently no reason to impose any travel restrictions because of the virus.

Public Health England said the recent rise in the number of Mers infections in Saudi could be the result of a number of factors: a change in the virus itself, a consequence of more active surveillance or some sort of, as yet unexplained, seasonality.

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