To the Editor: Originating in Saudi Arabia in June 2012, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a virus similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, has reached nine countries and affected 130 people, of whom 58 (45%) have died.1 The threat of this epidemic to Australia is uncertain. During the SARS epidemic, Australia was the “lucky country” — it had just six probable SARS cases and no known fatalities.2 However, about 4500 pilgrims from Australia travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for Hajj each year. About 50–150 people share a large tent (Box) and sleep in close proximity to each other for 5 days, which increases the risk of viral transmission.
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