Research on MERS Launched

RIYADH: The King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in cooperation with the ministries of health and agriculture has launched a joint program for comprehensive research on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has infected 1,276 people in the Kingdom since June 2012.

Of the total number of MERS victims, 546 have died, according to the Ministry of Health’s latest count.

The agreement was signed by President of the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed Al Saud, Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih and Minister of Agriculture Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli at KACST headquarters on Sunday.

Following the signing ceremony, Prince Turki said that under the accord, KACST will provide the technical and financial support to conduct research in addition to harnessing the infrastructure of specialized laboratories and digital structures highly developed to create a national database for MERS, and will subsequently include all infectious diseases throughout the Kingdom.

“The Ministry of Finance supports the procedures for research related to this program,” the KACST chief said, pointing out that there will be cooperation with international experts.

It was revealed that the cooperation of Saudi universities in terms of research will also be sought to carry out this project.

“We have to undertake this research project to control and fight against infectious diseases to protect the citizens and residents living in the Kingdom,” Al-Falih said.

The minister said that there will be an international symposium on infectious diseases and vaccines early next week in Riyadh which will be a good platform for health officials to exchange their experiences in the fight against MERS.

He denied any plan to slaughter all camels in the Kingdom. All the animals are not infected and breeding of camels is an occupation for some in rural areas, he noted.



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