RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is working with international scientific organisations to improve its response to a deadly new virus that has killed 186 people in the kingdom, its Acting Health Minister Adel Fakieh said yesterday.
Fakieh’s comments, in a written statement, were in response to a Reuters Special Report last week that quoted international scientists expressing frustration at Saudi Arabia’s handling of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
“We have been working with respected international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to develop policies and put in place the necessary arrangements, such as case definition and guidelines specifically for MERS, that are on par with international standards,” he wrote. “Our commitment is to continue this international collaboration past this current global challenge,” he added.
A total of 565 people have been infected in Saudi Arabia. The rate of infection has slowed since mid-May. After two days with no new confirmed cases, there were three yesterday, the Health Ministry said.
“The country has been strengthening infection control measures and other measures related to MERS and this may be an explanation to the recent lull in cases,” WHO spokesman Glenn Thomas said.
Fakieh said all Saudi healthcare facilities had been given new guidelines this month to combat the spread of the disease.