WHO praises Saudi response to MERS coronavirus

June 11, 2013

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a press statement praising the Saudi response to the emergence of a new type of coronavirus in the Kingdom. A joint Saudi-WHO mission met in Riyadh from June 4-6 to assess the outbreak of the disease, which has been named Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and is thought to be distantly related to the virus that caused SARS. A total of 55 cases of MERS-CoV have been confirmed, including 40 in Saudi Arabia, with the remainder found in Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Tunisia, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Thus far, the virus has caused death in 60 percent of patients.

After reviewing the Saudi response to MERS-CoV, the joint mission concluded that the Kingdom has done an excellent job investigating and controlling outbreaks. Saudi authorities took several important measures following the discovery of the virus in 2012, including instituting infection control measures in hospitals, increasing MERS-CoV surveillance, launching public awareness campaigns, reporting cases to the WHO, conducting epidemiological investigations to determine the source and path of the virus, and inviting international experts to assist in the process.

The WHO stated that the right prevention and control measures have been applied at this time and congratulated the Saudi government for its urgent, effective response. It called on all countries to increase surveillance efforts while attempts are made to investigate, control, and determine treatment options for MERS-CoV.