The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) is caused by a coronavirus which first surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Dr Jeffery Cutter, the director of the Health Ministry's communicable diseases division, said that while the transmission mechanism remains unclear, camels are a likely source of infection.

While the virus can also be transmitted through close contact between humans, sustained infections of this type has not been observed, he added.

According to data from the World Health Organisation, the virus has claimed 71 lives this year as of May 14.

A 54-year-old Malaysian succumbed to the virus last month.

Singapore has yet to be hit by the virus.

Dr Cutter said there were 48 suspected cases as of May 14 this year.

Out of these cases, 40 had been on a pilgrimage to the Middle East.