Maryn McKenna in Wired criticizes the Saudi government handling of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) for trying to control information about the spread of the disease:
While we wait to see the full extent of MERS, the one thing the world can do is to relearn the lesson of SARS: Just as diseases will always cross borders, governments will always try to evade blame. That problem can’t be solved with better devices or through a more sophisticated public-health dragnet.
The solution lies in something public health has failed to accomplish despite centuries of trying: persuading governments that transparency needs to trump concerns about their own reputations. Information can outrun our deadly new diseases, but only if it’s allowed to spread.
Donald G. McNeil Jr. reports:
Health officials confirmed Wednesday that bats in Saudi Arabia were the source of the mysterious virus that has sickened 96 people in the Middle East, killing 47 of them.
Denise Grady on the search for the virus causing MERS:
As the scientists peered into the darkness, their headlamps revealed an eerie sight. Hundreds of eyes glinted back at them from the walls and ceiling. They had discovered, in a crumbling, long-abandoned village half-buried in sand near a remote town in southwestern Saudi Arabia, a roosting spot for bats.
Saudi Arabia confirmed on Tuesday five new cases of the new MERS coronavirus. The Ministry of Health said in a brief statement published on its website that the five cases were reported in the Eastern Province in patients aged between 73 to 85. All of them have chronic diseases, the ministry said. This raises to 35 the number of confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia, the highest number by far in the world. Other cases have also been detected in Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, UAE, Germany, Britain and France.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health confirmed on Wednesday that a foreign man has died by the new MERS coronavirus. The man was hospitalized few days ago in the central region of Qassim due to a severe reparatory infection and died on Tuesday, the Ministry said in a brief statement published on its website. Al-Riyadh daily cited a statement by the Health Affairs Directorate in Qassim saying the man was 63 years old and suffered chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. A spokesman told the newspaper that a team of experts will visit Qassim to ensure that healthcare providers have not contracted the virus which has killed 17 people in Saudi Arabia so far.