WHO experts to probe Saudi MERS outbreak

Updated 18 May 2014
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WHO experts to probe Saudi MERS outbreak

Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) will arrive in the Kingdom on April 28 to investigate the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus outbreak in the country.
This comes after the National Scientific Committee for Infectious Diseases (NSCID) held a teleconference with WHO officials in Geneva and Cairo on Tuesday, according to an official from the Ministry of Health.
MERS has killed 71 people and infected 205 since September 2012. There have been 37 infections at Jeddah hospitals recently. Around 2,500 blood samples were tested for the virus in the western province, the official said.
Meanwhile, addressing a meeting on Wednesday in Jeddah, Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said that the NSCID has organized field visits in Jeddah to get first-hand information about the virus. “Hundreds of samples are being tested throughout the Kingdom from suspected cases,” the minister said.
He was speaking at the fifth consultative meeting of senior health officials, the ministry's key strategy meeting.
Al-Rabeeah said compensation is under consideration for all medical workers treating people with infectious diseases. “These officials are doing an excellent service for the sake of the nation,” he said.
The minister said that according to the WHO, there is no cure for coronavirus infections. However, he said the ministry has the situation under control and urged people not to panic or spread rumors about the outbreak.
Al-Rabeeah said the sudden outbreak of the virus in Jeddah was mainly due to the weather changing from winter to spring. The ministry has taken steps at all hospitals in the city to tackle cases of coronavirus and other infections, he said.
Sami Badawood, Jeddah Health Affairs director, told Arab News on Wednesday that face masks do not protect people against the coronavirus.
“While it is true that wearing a face mask can, to some extent, prevent the spread of influenza and other communicable diseases, and protect lungs from dust during sandstorms, masks cannot stop the spread of the coronavirus,” Badawood said.
“However, the coronavirus is also not considered a communicable disease,” he said. “Patients can only become infected after direct contact with an infected patient.”
“The Health Ministry in Jeddah adheres to international standards and World Health Organization norms to treat cases,” he said. “The ministry has established a special unit to follow up on cases around the clock. Officials have ascertained that the situation is completely normal after careful observation and extensive follow-ups.”
“Umrah pilgrims need not panic since there have been no cases reported from being in large crowds,” said Badawood. “In fact, there has not been a single case among pilgrims in Makkah so far.”
Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, Makkah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah and Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majid are closely following up on the situation, and the ministry is using state-of-the-art technology to analyze samples collected from patients suspected to be infected with the virus,” he said.
He said people on social media have blown the outbreak "out of proportion." "The ministry has also not found that any of the cases can be traced to camels.”


Muslim World League signs deal with Moscow to promote interfaith dialogue

Updated 22 April 2019
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Muslim World League signs deal with Moscow to promote interfaith dialogue

  • Al-Issa lauds Russian model of national harmony and coexistence
  • Al-Issa also met with Speaker of the Russian Parliament last month

MOSCOW: The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa held a meeting with the president of the Russian People’s Council, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, and other council members, where they discussed issues of common interest.

They looked into means of boosting cooperation between Russia and the Muslim world, supporting positive national integration programs and countering extremist speeches and Islamophobia.

Al-Issa lauded the Russian model of national harmony and coexistence, while Ordzhonikidze presented Al-Issa with a copy of the council’s yearly report.

At the meeting the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to share their experiences in the fight against extremist ideologies, the promotion of interreligious dialogue and coexistence and the implementation of joint projects to achieve shared goals. They also stressed the pure and peaceful values of Islam and rejected all forms of extremism and Islamophobia.

The meeting was attended by the Russian deputy chairman of the Committee for the Development of Agriculture, Aygun Memedov, the chairman of the Committee on the Normalization of Relations Between Nationalities and Religions, Sheikh Albert Karganov, the Mufti of Moscow and the Khanti-Mansisk Region in Siberia Sheikh Tahir Samatov.

Last month, Al-Issa met with Speaker of the Russian Parliament Vyacheslav Volodin. They discussed subjects related to promoting and supporting dialogue among followers of different religions and civilizations, activating cultural contacts and exchanges between the Muslim world and Russia.

Al-Issa signed a cooperation agreement between the MWL and Moscow’s Fund for Islamic Culture, Science and Education. The agreement focused on tackling extremism and promoting tolerance. The agreement stressed the need for cooperation in the fight against extremism, intolerance, aggression and hostility among religions, races and ideologies that could lead to terrorism.

Both parties agreed to exchange information on the activities of scientific centers, cultural forums and websites.