Sunday, June 21, 2015

WHO lauds Kingdom's efforts to tackle MERS

RIYADH: The World Health Organization (WHO) has appreciated the efforts of Saudi Arabia in tackling the MERS coronavirus and urged all the countries to remain alert and ready. The organization confirmed that the warning issued by it regarding the spread of MERS in South Korea and the increased incidence of infection and deaths due to the disease should serve as a "wake up call." Peter ben Embarek, director of global programs at WHO, said public health authorities in the Kingdom are active, and have developed a strong and coherent program to combat and follow up on MERS and reduce the number of cases and deaths. 

In events involving gathering of large groups of people, such as Umrah and Haj, Embarek said the Saudi health authorities have been proactive in providing all necessary services to visitors and pilgrims. "Special standards have been set for countries sending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia to ensure that adequate awareness and safety measures are in full effect." The Kingdom has already proven capable of containing the virus during the Haj and Umrah season last year with not a single case being registered during that period, he said. According to a statement issued by WHO on Thursday, the MERS outbreak in South Korea is a reflection of how easy diseases can spread in an increasingly interconnected world. 

The organization, however, clarified that it was optimistic and no bans on travel or trade would be required at this stage. Health officials in South Korea have announced the discovery of eight new cases of MERS, bringing the death toll in the country to 20. A total of 162 people have been infected with the virus in South Korea, which has witnessed the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia. The first case involved a 68-year-old Korean businessman who had just returned from a trip to the Middle East in early May. WHO said it expects the emergence of new cases over the next few weeks, although the numbers might be decreasing overall. 

The Ministry of Health in South Korea said quarantine was imposed on at least 6,500 people, both in medical centers and in their homes. Meanwhile, the Saudi Ministry of Health announced a new MERS-related death, bringing the total number of deaths to 457 so far. The Kingdom has reported 1,034 MERS cases since 2012. A patient fully recovered in Riyadh recently, bringing the total number of recovery cases to 570, while six other are currently being treated and one is in home quarantine. The mortality rate among MERS patients is 35 percent, and no vaccine or cure exists.

Citation : Zawya :

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