Billions spent in fighting MERS in 6 years


Saudi Gazette report

— It is estimated that Saudi Arabia has spent billions in fighting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) since coronavirus which causes the disease was first reported in the Eastern Province in September 2012.

The amount was spent to recruit specialist doctors, purchase modern medical equipment and provide better health services to patients round the clock.

Coronavirus, which first appeared in the Eastern Province and then spread to other parts of the Kingdom killing 733 Saudis and expats during the past six years, is still posing a big threat to public health.

The killer virus has infected more than 1,800 people across the Kingdom, the majority of them being health workers.

Patients contracted the virus either by contacting infected camels or from patients, doctors said.

“Despite this huge spending on fighting the virus, many people are still contracting the disease,” an official said.

“We have noticed that the virus remains in a dormant stage for some time to appear again with renewed energy,” the official said while speaking to Al-Hayat Arabic daily.

A largest number of MERS cases appeared in Riyadh and Jeddah. They also host a large number of hospitals that attract patients from all over the country. The two cities also hold the largest number of camels, the main carrier of the virus.

The ministry is now conducting a study on the reason for the increasing number of MERS infections in recent years while experts are monitoring new changes in the virus and its attitude.

The ministry has taken a number of precautionary and preventive measures to contain the disease.

More than 3,000 firms have been closed down as part of temporary and permanent punitive measures.

Seven health ministers have worked to eradicate MERS-CoV since it broke out first in the Kingdom. They are Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah (1430-35 Hijri), Adel Fakeih (1435-36 Hijri), Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Hayazie (1436 Hijri), Ahmed Oqail Al-Khateeb (1436 Hijri), Mohammed Abdulmalik Al-Asheikh (1436 Hijri), Khalid Al-Falih (1436-37 Hijri) and Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah (the present minister).