With roughly 3 million religious pilgrims gathered for the Hajj, and Austria yesterday reporting an imported MERS case, the potential for seeing more exported cases over the next few weeks can't be dismissed.
Fortunately - compared to this time last year - Saudi Arabia is reporting far fewer MERS cases and no large nosocomial outbreaks.
Sporadic cases, often linked to camel exposure, continue to emerge however, and the question of mild and/or asymptomatic cases going unreported remains unanswered (see EID Journal: Estimation of Severe MERS Cases in the Middle East, 2012–2016).
So we keep track, as best as we can, of the cases that are identified and reported. Today the MOH is reporting a single MERS infection in a 55 y.o. male with camel contact from the town of Arar, about 60km from the Iraqi border.
KSA has managed to prevent the spread of MERS during the past 3 Hajj gatherings and has taken steps - including banning camel sacrifices and promoting better health hygiene (hand washing, covering coughs, use of masks, etc.) - in order to reduce the risks again this year.
Given the incubation period for MERS, we won't know with certainty how successful their efforts have been for another two or three weeks.