MERS Remains a Mystery, Says WHO Official

2015-0220 MERS Remains a Mystery, Says WHO Official

The representative of the World Health Organization in the Kingdom, Dr. Hasan Al-Bushra, has announced that the origin of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is still a mystery and that no vaccine has yet been developed against it.

Though camels are most likely the origin of the virus, there is no confirmation of this as studies are still at the stage of analyzing data,” he said while speaking at an awareness program organized by the Ministry of Health.

The senior international official stressed that the recent infection cases in the Kingdom have not caused a global alarm because “the situation is under control and the virus has not been transmitted from human to human.”

Al-Bushra expects a rise in infection rates in the Kingdom during the coming two months, March and April, because of factors related mainly to weather changes. “The current efforts in the country aim at spreading awareness to eliminate the proliferation of the virus, thus decreasing the infections while, at the same time, treating confirmed cases so they do not result in deaths,” he said.

The WHO envoy lauded Saudi Arabia’s steps aimed at protection from the virus, especially infection control at health care facilities, but he mentioned that there was also a great need to monitor and follow up continuous compliance with these measures with the possibility of punishments for those who do not comply.

Concerning awareness of the virus, Al-Bushra said that present efforts would not be limited to adults, but would include children as a starting point for educating the whole family.

“The means for education will be an essay writing contest for schoolchildren across the Kingdom. All participants will be requested to write an essay on MERS-CoV not exceeding 200 words. This will aid in helping children, educators and families to learn basic facts about the virus,” he said.

Al-Busha mentioned that one major hindrance to fighting the virus is the lack of communication with those in remote regions of the Kingdom. “It is crucial to have a strong partnership between health authorities and the media, particularly social media, in order to reach such people and convey the message to them,” he emphasized.


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