Health officials recently disclosed that the average age range of patients infected with Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Kingdom is 55 years and above.
Abdullah Al-Asiri, assistant deputy minister of health for infection control and a key official assigned by the ministry to fight this disease, released this data on Thursday during his speech at the National Center for Health Information and Awareness.
Al-Asiri reported on the latest developments on MERS-CoV in the Kingdom, explaining that the infection has appeared earlier this year than previously expected.
“We were expecting a spike in the number of infected patients in March and April, but it appeared earlier. However, we have taken thorough and comprehensive measures in our health care facilities to face the situation,” he stated.
“Part of these measures include training over 40,000 health care workers, providing infection prevention materials, disseminating information, conducting awareness sessions and setting policies and protocols to deal with suspected cases at these facilities,” the physician added.
Though there are efforts being made to develop a vaccine, there hasn’t been any success so far, Al-Asiri explained, adding that the process of coming up with a vaccine to prevent the MERS is complex and involves many factors.
“The difficulties include constant genetic change of the virus that weakens the efficacy of any developed vaccine, as well as the reluctance of drug manufacturers to invest in producing such product because of the poor return expected on their investment,” he pointed out.
In light of these facts, Al-Asiri stressed that the only available weapon at present to fight the virus is awareness and compliance with the official prevention guidelines.
According to MoH, MERS-CoV is a highly contagious virus that spreads through direct contact with people and camels with the virus. Symptoms include cough, high fever, congestion and shortness of breath, and in some cases, diarrhea.
The ministry has recommended the implementation of various practices to prevent infection.
They include washing hands with soap and water, avoiding physical contact with sick people or camels, refraining from touching eyes or nose, coughing into a tissue or elbow and washing elbow carefully, as well as maintaining good hygiene habits in general.