14 May 2013, 12:42

Saudi Arabia: a hotbed for a new lethal virus

According to the world health organization, 34 new cases of coronavirus infection have been reported worldwide. The epicenter of the new disease, apparently, is the Arabian Peninsula. The vast majority of deaths are registered in Saudi Arabia and two more patients died there last Sunday.

Advisor to the Minister of Health of Saudi Arabia Khaled Margalani spoke to the Voice of Russia about the symptoms of the new disease and measures being taken in the Kingdom to combat the disease.

- This coronavirus, which has caused the death of fifteen people in Saudi Arabia, does not resemble any known virus. There is no effective vaccine or medication against it so far. In addition, our medicine still can't diagnose its unusual symptoms. And this is the worst thing, because we don't know what signs we should warn the population about.

When patients come to a clinic, all they complain of is high temperature and a very strong cough, and upon examination it always reveals itself as double pneumonia. Then, some time later, they need reanimation and artificial oxygen.

The Scientific Council under the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia has already carried out research on the virus and received some initial results. Other researchers from private health care organizations have joined this research team. In addition, the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom has already invited experts in the field of medicine from different international organizations, for example, the World Health Organization, Columbia University in New York and other organizations. These teams have already conducted more than 200 studies for the purpose of finding the virus in different natural sources. According to preliminary estimates, it is possible that animals are the source of the infection, but it is not certain yet. As we hope, we have already managed to isolate the infected people so that there will be no further spread of the virus.

In general, this is not a new phenomenon for the Kingdom. Twenty-four contagions with similar viruses have been registered since September 2012, and 15 of them had lethal results. This happened in Jeddah, in Riyadh and in the East of Saudi Arabia. As far as I know, a similar virus was diagnosed also in France, the United Kingdom, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

As far as this year’s Hajj is concerned, Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization Keiji Fukuda said that so far there is no evidence that the new virus is communicated otherwise than through close contact. That is why there are no official guidelines or prohibitions on visiting Saudi Arabia and participating in the Hajj yet.

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