JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Saturday 21 September 2013
Last update 23 September 2013 5:35 am
Representatives of various Asian diplomatic missions in the Kingdom, worried over the spread of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), met with officials of the Ministry of Health recently to specifically check on safety measures being adopted to contain the virus.
The meeting comes in the wake of Asian medical professionals working at local hospitals being infected with the virus, including a Filipino nurse.
Dr. Khalid Al-Mirghalani, health ministry spokesman, said Asian diplomats were assured that safety measures were in place at Saudi hospitals.
Scientists and health experts have called for watchful surveillance and vigilance to contain the disease.
Scientists said genetic analysis of samples of the MERS virus that had killed 58 people in the Middle East and Europe shows the disease has jumped from animals to humans several times.
“Our findings suggest that different lineages of the virus have originated from the virus jumping across to humans from an animal source a number of times,” said Paul Kellam, a professor of viral pathogenesis at Britain’s Sanger Institute and University College London (UCL), who led the research, told Reuters.
Dr. Ziad Al-Memish, undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health and one of the researchers on this study, said pinning down the animal source or sources would be critical in allowing health authorities to get on top of the outbreak.