ABU DHABI - Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had discovered 11 more cases of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), including what appeared to be the first case in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

A health ministry statement said eight of the people were in intensive care, two were stable, including a 24-year-old Saudi man from the "holy capital" Mecca, and one showed no symptoms. Three of those affected worked in health care, it said.

Saudi Arabia has witnessed a jump in the rate of infection with the virus in recent weeks, with many of the new cases recorded in Jeddah, the kingdom's second largest city.

Of Wednesday's 11 new cases, four were recorded in the Saudi capital Riyadh, six in Jeddah - the second largest city and the main entry point for pilgrims visiting nearby Mecca - and one in Mecca itself, the statement said.

The jump in Saudi cases is of particular concern as the country is expected to see a large influx of pilgrims from around the world in July during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, followed in early October by the arrival of millions of people to perform the annual Haj in Mecca and Medina.

The latest cases bring the total number of confirmed cases in the kingdom to 272, of whom 81 have died.


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