MOH News
MOH's Press Release on the MERS-CoV Cases in Riyadh
06 November 2014
 The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) continues to keep a close its eye on the Middle East respiratory syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases associated with the cases recently detected in Taif, including five confirmed cases in Riyadh caused by a directed infection transmitted by a person who traveled there last month from Taif.
Four people, including patients and healthcare workers, tested positive for MERS-CoV after coming into contact with the index patient, who was admitted on October 18 to Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Hospital in Riyadh.
Two of those patients later died. One recovered and was discharged, another remains hospitalized at a MERS-CoV Center of Excellence in the Central Region, at Prince Mohamed bin Abdulaziz Hospital.


The Ministry made clear that its Command & Control Center (CCC) identified the cases through its disease surveillance system and immediately dispatched a rapid-response team to assess the infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures at the hospital.  In addition to conducting inspections, the Ministry identified patients and healthcare workers who had contact with the index patient for evaluation and follow-up. More than 200 people, including family members and healthcare workers, were tested for the virus.




“MERS-CoV is active and we need to be on full alert,” Dr. Anees Sindi, Deputy Commander of the CCC, said. “Healthcare workers can reduce the risk of infection by continuing to take all the required precautions to protect themselves and their patients.”
The CCC, according to Dr. Sindi, is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate the Taif cluster that is associated with these cases.


“Dialysis patients have a compromised immune system, putting them at higher risk of developing more complications from MERS-CoV than the average patients,” said Dr. Abdullah Assiri, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Health and liaison to the WHO.  “Hospitals should be very vigilant in monitoring these patients and isolating them when they develop any symptoms that may be attributed to an infection.”
Dr. Sindi and Dr. Assiri visited the hospital immediately after the first case was diagnosed to provide support and guidance. CCC continues to monitor the situation along with public-health and infection-control experts from the Ministry. After the CCC submitted its recommendations, the regional directorate assigned a team to the hospital to ensure that infection control practices were being followed and the recommendations were being implemented.


In partnership with the WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ministry has instituted a number of reforms designed to protect patients and healthcare workers from MERS-CoV infection. This includes fit-testing healthcare workers for masks, and providing ongoing education about the guidelines for identifying and addressing patients suspected of having MERS-CoV.


Whenever possible, MERS-CoV patients are transferred to a specially designated facility. Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Hospital is the Center of Excellence for the Central Region.


The Ministry has introduced new laws, and trained thousands of healthcare workers on how to reduce the risk of infection inside hospitals. And underway are more than 30 research projects, in collaboration with the local and international scientific bodies. One of these studies revolves around how to address critical cases; it is designed to reveal the reasons of the infection spread of MERS-CoV in KSA.




It is worth mentioning that total number of MERS-CoV cases in KSA, since its inception in June 2012, has reached at least 796 confirmed cases.
Concluding, the Ministry of Health (MOH) called upon all community members to visit the Command and Control Center's (CCC) website, in order to get updated with the latest statistics, and learn how to prevent infection.




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