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Saudi Arabia Establishes MERS Centre To Stem Outbreak

Saudi Arabia Establishes MERS Centre To Stem Outbreak

The new centre aims to ensure cross ministry coordination and disease control in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has set up a new centre to control the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the country, local media reported.

The new centre will consist of a control tower, a scientific committee and an advisory board while ensuring cross-ministry coordination. It will also have adequate epidemiology support and infection prevention capacity along with clinical operations, it was outlined.

“The centre with this new package of measures will assist the Health Ministry to upgrade the existing preventative procedures against the spread of infection while simultaneously increasing the readiness within the health sector to deal with future challenges,” acting Health minister Adel Fakeih was quoted as saying in Arab News.

“This process will ensure that the health sector across the Kingdom works in accordance with the latest international best practice guidelines to protect patients and the public.”

The Kingdom has also issued stringent guidelines for infection control and has assigned a specialised unit to ensure rapid response policies.

MERS, which is known to kill almost 30 per cent of those infected, has been reported in most GCC countries and in some parts of Asia, Europe and America.

Saudi Arabia has been the worst affected in the Gulf with a death toll of 157, and the number of infected cases exceeding 500.

The Kingdom, which recorded a surge in MERS infections, reported earlier today that 10 more people have been killed due to virus while 20 people more have been affected.

The total number of infections reported in the country doubled in April while a 25 per cent rise has already been recorded in May.

Despite such an uptick in the number of MERS cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not declared a public health emergency or imposed a travel ban on the region.

The WHO’s assistant director general for health security, Keiji Fukuda, said the main reason for not declaring MERS an emergency was that despite a surge in cases, the evidence did not suggest it was passing more easily from person to person.

“There is no convincing evidence right now for an increase in the transmissibility of this virus,” he told reporters in a telephone briefing.

However, the WHO warned countries where MERS is common to take urgent steps to improve infection prevention and control. The global organisation said that investigations had to be started immediately to better understand the risk factors behind the disease.

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