Health mission urges more Saudi measures to combat MERS (Al-Shorfa)

An international health mission to Saudi Arabia said Monday (February 23rd) that more measures are needed to combat the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus ( MERS ) in the kingdom, AFP reported.
In a World Health Organisation statement issued following the conclusion of the mission, the team of experts said it had identified with Saudi health authorities the need for “understanding the animal/human interface”, including the “modes of infection and transmission.”
It also urged “improving disease prevention, especially in health facilities that continue to experience avoidable infections”.
The mission headed to the kingdom after a surge of cases in recent weeks, including 50 reported this month alone as well as infections acquired in health facilities.
A total of 899 people have been infected in the kingdom, of whom 382 have died, since the MERS was identified globally in 2012.
The health ministry recorded five deaths on Thursday alone, bringing to 16 the number since February 11th.
“When health workers are infected at work, this puts other healthcare workers at risk, but also can be a risk to all other patients who seek care for other health conditions,” the statement said.
Educating professionals and the public about the virus is “urgently needed”, it said, highlighting “significant gaps in community engagement to fully understand routes of infection and the preventive steps that should be taken”.