There is no cause for alarm over the latest outbreak of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in Riyadh, despite six deaths over the past three days, said Health Minister Khaled Al-Falih here on Wednesday.
Al-Falih said the recent cases in Riyadh were mostly from a single source. The Health Ministry has also reported 20 new cases of infection since Monday in Riyadh.
Since June 2012, there have been 1,118 cases of MERS, 483 deaths, 592 patients who have recovered, and 43 receiving treatment at government hospitals and at home.
Addressing regional health directors in the capital, the minister said that there is no need to close schools or prohibit the movement of people in public places.
“We have taken all the necessary precautions to keep the disease under control and such efforts are handled by health experts according to global standards,” he said.
“We have been successful in maintaining transparency and also handling the situation properly for the benefit and welfare of the nation,” he said, adding that people should refrain from visiting infected people, ensure proper personal hygiene, and seek medical advice if they have respiratory problems.
“There were few cases of children contracting the virus, and it does not spread in the air but often by direct contact with patients,” he said. The most vulnerable people are those with chronic diseases, he said.
He said the ministry plans to launch a massive public awareness campaign on MERS symptoms, preventive methods and treatment.
Referring to the recent cases at King Fahd Medical City (KAMC) in Riyadh, the minister said a single source infected multiple people, and that the ministry was supporting KAMC and other hospitals.
“We have a unified approach in terms of handling patients at all hospitals in the Kingdom,” he said.
Al-Falih said preventive measures have been taken for the Haj with staff deployed at strategic points to monitor pilgrims.
“All the 15 ports of entry in the western province are manned by health officials to check for any suspected virus patients.” He pledged that the ministry would provide the best health services for the guests of Allah.