May 8, 2013
By Helen Branswell
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have invited outside experts to help it
deal with a large outbreak of the new coronavirus in the eastern Saudi
city of al Hofuf, and a Canadian infectious diseases specialist is among
Toronto SARS expert Dr. Allison McGeer arrived in the Middle Eastern
country on Wednesday, travelling at the request of the kingdom’s
government, a source revealed.
“The reappearance of this virus and the pattern of transmission
currently being observed in Saudi Arabia increase the level of concern
regarding this novel pathogen,” the statement said.
“The questions of the exposures that result in human infection, the
mode of transmission, the source of the virus and the extent of
infection in the community urgently need to be answered and are being
actively pursued by the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia.”
In addition to McGeer, two officials of the World Health Organization
were in or travelling to the country to meet with senior officials of
the ministry of health in the capital, Riyadh.
“It’s likely they will also visit al Hofuf,” WHO spokesperson Gregory
Hartl said. He would not reveal the names of the WHO personnel.