Asian countries should keep their guard against the deadly Middle East respiratory virus, although it is unlikely to spread to the region, a World Health Organization expert said Thursday. The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) appears to be less infectious than originally thought even though it has already killed 287 people, said Mark Jacobs, WHO's director for communicable diseases in the Western Pacific. His comments come after the Philippines last week urged its large Muslim mi**rity to reconsider plans to join the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place in Saudi Arabia, until the threat from the virus has dissipated. "If the virus stays unchanged, then I think that what we have been seeing is what we will keep seeing." The WHO said 15 countries have reported MERS cases, with the virus widely circulating in the Arabian peninsula.




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