June 12, 2013
The Ministry of Health released a report yesterday following genetic tests on the latest victims of the deadly coronavirus in the Eastern Province.
Health Ministry Spokesman Dr. Khalid Al-Mirghalani told Arab News that the study was conducted on four patients in Al-Ahsa by a group of researchers from University College in London and the UK-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. The study, he added, is a positive step to follow the development of the virus and will help find a speedy mechanism to treat MERS-COV after diagnosis.
Complete genetic sequences of four MERS-COV patients in Ahsa have been registered on a genetic bank database as of yesterday. “They are available to medics according to the norms via the bank’s website, the National Center for Biotechnology Information,” he noted.
He said the ministry has called on all local and foreign researchers to browse the database of the genetic bank to acquaint themselves with the scientific aspects of the virus on the four individuals. The spokesman hoped that the data would help researchers gain an insight into the disease and help find methods of treatment to prevent and cure the virus.
He pointed out that there is little information on the disease currently available. “There is no proper medicine for the disease and its transmission is still under study,” he said.
Al-Mirghalani explained that the genetic report on each of the four patients is given separately so that medics can have an in-depth knowledge of the pattern of infection on the human body.
Meanwhile, the ministry announced one more fatality yesterday due to coronavirus in Al-Ahsa in the Eastern region. The incident brings the total of number of deaths to 26 out of 40 diagnosed cases in the Kingdom.
The spokesman said that the deceased was a Saudi citizen who was infected with the virus in the Al-Ahsa governorate. He was suffering from the End-Stage of Renal Disease (ESRD) along with other chronic ailments.
Last month, upon invitation from the Ministry of Health, a team of WHO officials and international scientists visited hospitals in Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province to exchange information on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Kingdom.
During the visit, Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of the WHO’s Health Security and Environment said the Kingdom has taken the novel coronavirus situation very seriously and that the Ministry of Health has initiated crucial public health campaigns, including intensifying surveillance, initiating investigations and important research and putting control measures in place. “One of the reasons why more cases have been identified in KSA may be because they have made concerted efforts to strengthen surveillance,” he noted.