Al Arabiya TV carries a story from Agence France Presse stating that people are becoming a bit less frightened about the MERS-CoV flu that is percolating in Saudi Arabia. Where people had been avoiding each other out of fear of catching the flu, now they are again taking part in group social activities. Too, the customary greeting by a kiss (same-sex only, please! This is Saudi Arabia, after all.) is back in style. I’d still be wary of the Bedouin kiss on the nose, though…
Panic over MERS virus fades in Saudi Arabia
AFP, Al-Hufuf, Saudi Arabia
People in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have again started greeting friends with the traditional kiss on the cheek, and face masks in public are becoming rarer, as panic subsides over the outbreak of a deadly respiratory disease that hit the country last year.
“We continue to kiss each other when we meet relatives and friends, and we organize evenings without wearing masks or taking any precautionary measures,” said Badr Abdullah, as he bought groceries at a shopping center in Al-Hufuf, the main city in Al-Ahsa governorate.
“At the beginning, panic hit us. But now, the situation is back to normal,” Abdullah said.
Last June, the province was hit for the first time with what became a spate of cases of what was dubbed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) because of the high proportion of cases reported in the region.
Out of 64 cases worldwide, the virus has killed 38 people, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. Of that total, 49 cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, with 32 people dying.