Originally posted on 26th April 2014
I am currently working in Saudi Arabia and precisely at only 150 km far from Jeddah that is the epicentre of the MERS contagion. When I firstly come here, some 11 months ago, I remember that the media were treating the MERS Virus as a very rare and very difficult to get disease. In two years only 200 people got infected and a third of them passed away mainly because of other chronic serious illnesses.
The MERS-CO V is a coronavirus like SARS, that was most probably originated by the passage from camels to the human beings of the virus. The first recorded case was a 60-year-old male patient with acute pneumonia and acute renal failure, who passed away in Jeddah on June 24, 2012.
Since then the number of new cases were few per month, indicating a very difficult transmission of the virus from human to human as stated by WHO in February 2013: “the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission appears to be very low” (see here).
Mers Cases in Saudi Arabia
The virus seemed to be vanished or, better, just affecting old and already seriously ill people, when a furious outbreaks hit Saudi Arabia at the beginning of April 2014 when hundred cases were registered in few days.
In the Ministry of Health dedicated website there is a constant and official flow of news about MERS cases and death that helps the people to get informed and aware about the risks that this new fever brings along.
The escalation, as briefly anticipated started the first days of April when some major local newspapers started mentioning MERS with more and more insistence. ArabianBusiness.com published an Article on April 10, 2014 where Staff Writer reported that “eleven new cases were reported in Jeddah in recent weeks, causing a wave of panic fuelled by rumors circulated on social networks.”
On April 20, 2014 ArabianBuisness.com reported a news posted by Reuters where it was stated that “Saudi Arabia has confirmed seven new cases of MERS, adding up to 36 infections in five days, a sudden increase of a disease that kills about a third of the people infected and has no cure”. In the same day Courtney Trenwith posted an article with an eloquent title: “Virus expert says MERS infection prevention, control has “broken down” in Saudi Arabia” and the Ministry of Health issued a note confirming 13 new cases (here).
While the people started to be more and more concerned about the spreading of this virus, what could seem a confirmation of the delicate situation in the Kingdom appeared in the newspapers worldwide on April 21, 2014: “Saudi Health Minister Fired Amid Surge in Deadly MERS Virus” as reported by the Wall Street Journal in an article that also quote the local sentiment of some locals interviewed: “It seems that MERS is a much more serious issue than what is being announced.”
Since then it was a continue counting of new infected and death.
From the Saudi Ministry of Health website:
- April 19, 2014 > 13 new cases
- April 20, 2014 > 12 new cases
- April 21, 2014 > 13 new cases
- April 22, 2014 > 11 new cases
- April 23, 2014 > 12 new cases
- April 24, 2014 > 14 new cases
The Saudi Gazette reported in an article dated April 25, 2014 that the new cases discovered in the past 24 hours are 36 mainly located in Jeddah, Riyadh, Makah and Medina (original article here).