The Kingdom and the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a joint initiative on Sunday to share information, research findings and practices amid global efforts to contain the spread of the MERS coronavirus.
The decision was taken following talks between Acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih and a delegation from the CDC under the auspices of the WHO and the GORAN (Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network) as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to tackle the disease, which claimed another three lives and infected three others on Sunday.
The CDC, a national public health institute in the United States, is a federal agency that applies infection control and prevention measures in combatting communicable diseases.
“We are working closely with several international organizations to ensure that everyone involved in this global effort is kept up-to-date with the latest information and has access to all the findings accumulated by Saudi health care professionals in dealing with the spread of the virus in the Kingdom,” said Fakeih after the meeting.
A CDC spokesman reaffirmed that the team will be collaborating in the investigation of the MERS virus in the Kingdom.
The three latest victims include two women, aged 62 and 80, in Riyadh and a 45-year-old man in Jeddah, according to a statement released by the Health Ministry.
This brings the death toll to 142 since September 2012. The three new cases were a 56-year-old woman in Riyadh and two women in Jeddah, aged 42 and 80.
The Malaysian government said it has no plan to review the 22,320 Haj pilgrims quota for this year despite the MERS outbreak.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said the option was not viable due to a long waiting list of pilgrims. He said Tabung Haji was working closely with the Health Ministry to provide additional vaccination for Haj pilgrims.ï»¿
A senior ministry official said the ministry would not hesitate to take any action deemed necessary to protect the Kingdom’s residents from the virus.
“The ministry has designated three MERS specialist centers in major cities such as Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah to ensure patients get the best possible health care,” he said.
The ministry has also set up an independent advisory board to get expert medical advice in combatting the virus.
Fakeih has extended office tenure of health affairs directors in several regions.
These include Adnan Abdulkarim, director-general of Health Affairs in the Riyadh region, Abdullah Al-Thaifi in Madinah, Saleh Al-Karaj in Qassim, Mohamed Al-Habtan in the Northern Borders Region and Abdulmohsin Al-Ammar in Hail.
Meanwhile, three women and two men from Jeddah and Tabuk have reportedly fully recovered from the virus.
The 56-year-old woman in Riyadh had shown mild respiratory symptoms coming into contact with a confirmed case and is said to be in stable condition.
The 80-year-old woman in Jeddah also developed respiratory symptoms after visiting the emergency section of a government hospital.
The woman is now in quarantine at home and is said to be stable.
The 42-year-old female MERS patient in Jeddah began suffering respiratory symptoms on May 4 after coming into contact with a confirmed case and was admitted to a government hospital the following day.
The woman is also said to be in stable condition.
Meanwhile, the first American who was thought to have contracted MERS from the Kingdom was released on Friday from a northwestern Indiana hospital after health officials determined that the patient “poses no threat to the community.”