Last month the Ministry of Health’s Command & Control Center launched a rigorous examination of data related to MERS-CoV patients from 2012 onwards. The main objective of that review was to ensure a more complete and accurate understanding of the MERS-CoV outbreak in the Kingdom. The review has already enhanced the Ministry’s policy development process and improved measures taken to address the situation.
Following the review, the new total number of cases recorded in the Kingdom between 2012 and today, is 688. Of that total, 282 of the cases were fatalities, 53 are currently receiving treatment, 353 have recovered.
Based on the findings of the review, the Ministry has already put in place a number of measures to ensure that best practices of data gathering, reporting, transparency are being strictly observed, and that the necessary systems and processes have been put in place to ensure that from now on, case information will be accurate, reliable and timely.
Dr Tariq Madani, Head of the Scientific Advisory Board within the Ministry’s Command and Control Center said: “The Ministry is committed to fully understanding MERS-CoV and putting in place the policies needed to protect public health and safety. To do this the Ministry has reviewed historical cases of MERS-CoV to give a more comprehensive understanding of the facts. While the review has resulted in higher total number of previously unreported cases, we still see a decline in the number of new cases reported over the past few weeks.”
Measures that have been taken to ensure the reliability of information and speed of reporting include the development of an electronic case reporting system, and improving reporting mechanisms on new cases to MoH Command & Control Center.
Additionally, the capacity, efficiency and quality of the standardized labs and testing facilities was upgraded through a series of measures that included:
- Authorization of additional labs to perform standard testing.
- Standardization of testing kits across all labs and implementation of quality assurance processes.
- Development and implementation of guidelines for the proper labeling and storage of samples in hospitals and labs.
- Development and implementation of efficient specimen transport protocols to guarantee the integrity of samples during transport and ensure accuracy.
- Improving access to authorized MoH labs through implementation of a robust countrywide courier transportation system for rapid transfer of specimens to regional labs.
Dr. Madani added: “This review has informed the Ministry’s policies, and it took stringent action to combat MER-CoV, announcing the new Command and Control Center to increase the level of preparedness for future public health challenges, issuing infection control protocols to contain the spread of the virus, and directly engaging the public with an awareness campaign.”