MERS strikes: 4 dead, 9 new cases surface

Updated 31 October 2014

MERS strikes: 4 dead, 9 new cases surface

The MERS coronavirus has killed four persons and infected nine others, announced the Health Ministry on Thursday.
One of the latest victims of the deadly disease is an 84-year-old expatriate who lived in Taif.
The nine latest MERS infected patients, meanwhile, are all Saudi with the exception of a 30-year-old expat woman in Riyadh.
Three new cases were diagnosed in Riyadh, three in Taif and one in Hafr Al-Batin.
The deadly virus has killed 337 across the Kingdom since June 2012.
A total of 435 patients have made a full recovery, while 17 are currently undergoing treatment in hospitals across the Kingdom, according to ministry reports.
New cases have recently been diagnosed in several cities, including Taif, Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Al-Jouf, Najran, Hofuf, Hafr Al-Batin and Jubail.


Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

Updated 47 min 42 sec ago

Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

  • The visit comes days after Pentagon said it was bolstering its forces in the Kingdom amid tensions with Iran
  • In October, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia following attacks on Saudi oil plants

RIYADH: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with tensions simmering between the United States and Iran, and Russia seeking to increase its regional influence.
Al-Ekhbariyah television gave no details on the previously unannounced visit, which comes after Esper visited Afghanistan.
Esper is likely to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his first trip to the key Middle East ally since he took office this summer, a visit intended partly to reassure Riyadh over bilateral ties.

US-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
The United States has deployed military forces to Saudi Arabia to bolster the Kingdom’s defenses after an attack on oil sites last month.
The Sept. 14 attack knocked out two major processing facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Khurais and Abqaiq, roughly halving Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
Washington condemned the attacks as a “act of war” but neither the Saudis nor the United States have overtly retaliated.

Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed there since last month.
Despite the additional troops, there are questions about the US commitment to allies in the region after Trump announced a sudden withdrawal from northeastern Syria, opening the door for Russia to increase its influence in the Middle East.
A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States still wanted to be seen as the partner of choice in the region and Russia was not as dependable, whether it be the level of training or the military equipment it can provide.
President Vladimir Putin signalled Moscow’s growing Middle East clout last week on his first visit to Saudi Arabia in over a decade, buoyed by Russian military gains in Syria, strong ties with Riyadh’s regional rivals and energy cooperation.
(With Reuters and AFP)