Al Arabiya TV reports that the emergence of the MERS-CoV virus in Saudi Arabia is being seen as an issue of national security, not only in the Kingdom, but across the GCC. The virus, which has slowly been killing more people in Saudi Arabia, at a pace of about one per week, is of particular concern for officials dealing with Haj, when millions of pilgrims will enter the country from abroad. The potential for an epidemic is not trivial.
The disease seems to preferentially attack the elderly and the elderly very much make up a major portion of pilgrims.
MERS: GCC infectious disease security
In the past few weeks, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is becoming an increasing threat to GCC National Health Security. MERS, apparently originating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is spreading rapidly to several continents around the globe.
Saudi Deputy Health Minister Ziad Memish has openly spoken about this potential crisis of MERS. Memish said that previous cases had been fought by placing the patient in ICU (intensive care unit) and in the haemo-dialysis unit. It is also important to separate patients and limit physical contact between subjects. At the same time, KSA is sending animal samples to the US for testing in a bid to test the virus and potentially create vaccines. Saudi Arabia, because of the King’s role as Custodian of the Holy Cities, is quite advanced in taking care of, and mitigating, any infection disease.