RIYADH, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Saudi Arabia's death toll from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has surged to 282 after recalculations, the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday.
A total of 688 cases have been confirmed in the Gulf kingdom since the first case was registered in 2012, according to the ministry's rigorous review. Of those infected, 53 are reportedly receiving treatment.
Before the review, the ministry's latest tally of cases reached 575, with 190 deaths.
The main objective of that review was to ensure a more complete and accurate understanding of the virus outbreak in the country, the ministry said, adding that the review has already enhanced the ministry's policy development process and improved measures already taken to address the situation.
MERS is considered a deadlier but less transmissible cousin of the SARS virus which erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected thousands of people. The coronavirus was first discovered in mid- 2012 in an old man with acute pneumonia and renal failure.
The Saudi government has been criticized by international health experts over its handling of the disease, which has spread to several Middle East countries, Asia, and the United States.