WHO commends Saudi Arabia on response to MERS-CoV

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the World Health Organization recently met in Riyadh to review a new coronavirus outbreak in the Kingdom, where the WHO commended Saudi Arabia on its response methods.

The coronavirus, recently named the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, is an emerging virus that is related to the virus which caused SARS. The virus leads to death for 60 percent of its victims and is three times more likely to occur in men, who typically already have chronic illnesses.

Fifty-five cases of MERS-CoV have been confirmed in a laboratory. Of the 55 cases, 40 occurred in Saudi Arabia with other cases in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, typically resulting from travels to the Middle East.

During the joint mission, the WHO said Saudi Arabia had done an excellent job in response to the outbreak. Saudi Arabia introduced preventative methods to stop hospital transmission, increased surveillance for MERS-CoV, initiated awareness campaigns to educate the public, investigated sources of infection and invited international experts to help.

Little is known about the virus, but the WHO warns those travelling to the Middle East to be aware of the presence of the illness. The WHO also said if a person comes down with an unexplained case of pneumonia MERS-CoV should be considered as a culprit. All confirmed cases of infection are to be reported to the WHO under International Health Regulations.