MERS death toll in Saudi Arabia hits 400

Updated 04 March 2015
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MERS death toll in Saudi Arabia hits 400

Four more people have died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-Cov), raising the total in the Kingdom to 400, the Ministry of Health’s Command and Control Center said Monday.
All the victims were male, and three of them, all Saudis aged 91, 89 and 60, were from Riyadh. The fourth victim was a 45-year-old foreign worker in the central city of Buraidah, said the MOH in a daily bulletin posted on its website.
The bulletin said all four fatalities had pre-existing diseases prior to catching the coronavirus. Most other MERS deaths have pre-existing diseases, MOH records show.
Four new infections were also reported on Monday, bringing the total number of MERS-CoV cases in the Kingdom to 931 since June 2012.
All the new cases were reported in Riyadh. Three were Saudis — a 61-year-old woman, a 63-year-old man and another male aged 53 — and the fourth was a male expatriate worker aged 57. Two of the cases were listed to be in “critical” condition.
Last month, Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Saeed, who heads the center coordinating the ministry's response to MERS, warned that a rise in cases typically occurs around this time of year, when there are more juvenile camels circulating.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cited the preliminary results of studies indicating that people working with camels are at increased risk of infection from MERS-CoV, and young camels are particularly susceptible.
But representatives of the WHO and other UN agencies who concluded a visit to the kingdom this week said there was an urgent need for greater understanding of the "animal/human interface".
"There are so many aspects of the virus that are still unknown," said Berhe Tekola, of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The mission urged "improving disease prevention, especially in health facilities that continue to experience avoidable infections".
Saudi Arabia has implemented a public education campaign about MERS but the statement said "efforts to educate professionals and the public are urgently needed."
More than 20 countries have been affected by the virus but most cases have been linked to the Middle East.


Gruelling Dakar Rally route through Saudi Arabia’s ‘captivating’ deserts revealed by Sports Authority

Updated 25 April 2019
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Gruelling Dakar Rally route through Saudi Arabia’s ‘captivating’ deserts revealed by Sports Authority

AL-QADDIYA: More details about the Dakar Rally expected to take place in January 2020 in Saudi Arabia were released on Thursday by the Kingdom's General Sports Authority at an event in Al-Qaddiya.

The race starts on Jan. 5 in Jeddah, with the drivers set to race through Al-Madinah, Tabuk and Ha’il regions before a having a rest day in Riyadh. From the capital, the route winds its way back toward the coast through the Asir region and ends in the city of Al-Qaddiya on Jan. 12.

Speaking at the event, the chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA) Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal announced a 10-year partnership with the Dakar Rally, saying: "We want the world to see the captivating desert of Saudi Arabia and to get to know the good and hospitable people of the Kingdom that looks forward to receiving the world.

“Our country is extremely passionate about sport and our strategic goal is to feed that appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030 of which sport is a basic pillar.

“In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers as they discover the beauty of Saudi nature and a unique spectacle for motorsport fans not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the region and around the world.”

It was announced earlier this month that the race would be held in Saudi Arabia, and for the first time in the Middle East.

The Dakar has been held in South America since 2009. The gruelling multi-stage rally was previously held in Africa but was relocated after terrorist threats in Mauritania in 2008.

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said when the race announcement was made: “I have always wanted to participate in Dakar Rally, while I wasn’t fortunate to achieve that ambition, I’m now part of achieving a much bigger dream for my country as Dakar comes to the Middle East region for the first time ever.”

CEO of Qiddiya project Michael Reininger said: "Qiddiya will soon become the centre of the motorsports world by virtue of an unparalleled collection of on track and off road facilities and a set of experiences and events that have never been assembled in one place before.”

The CEO of the rally's organizing company, Amaury Sport Organization, Yann Le Moenner thanked the princes for their commitment to bringing the rally to Saudi Arabia, adding: “Crossing the best deserts of the world has always been in the DNA of the Dakar, to discover and share.”

Meanwhile, the drivers involved in the rally have been in Saudi Arabia soaking up local culture and experiencing some of the desert landscapes they will drive through in January.