Review finds much higher MERS cases
JEDDAH – The Ministry of Health said on Tuesday that a review of health data had identified an additional 113 confirmed cases of the sometimes deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that had not been previously recorded, bringing the total to 688.
The death toll from coronavirus that causes MERS has been raised to 282 from 190, the Health Ministry announced on its website.
The revised figures come from a re-examination of data since 2012, when MERS was identified, that started last month. Of the total, 53 patients were still being treated, while 353 had recovered, the statement said.
The Health Ministry said it had put in place new measures to make sure data gathering, reporting and transparency were being observed, including standardization of testing and better guidelines for labeling and storing samples. “While the review has resulted in a higher total number of previously unreported cases, we still see a decline in the number of new cases reported over the past few weeks,” Tariq Madani, head of the ministry’s scientific advisory board at the newly-established Command and Control Center, said in the statement.
Measures that have been taken to ensure the reliability of information and speed of reporting include the development of an electronic case reporting system, and improving reporting mechanisms on new cases to MoH Command & Control Center.
Additionally, the capacity, efficiency and quality of the standardized labs and testing facilities was upgraded through a series of measures that included:
Authorization of additional labs to perform standard testing.
Standardization of testing kits across all labs and implementation of quality assurance processes.
Development and implementation of guidelines for the proper labeling and storage of samples in hospitals and labs.
Development and implementation of efficient specimen transport protocols to guarantee the integrity of samples during transport and ensure accuracy.
Improving access to authorized MoH labs through implementation of a robust countrywide courier transportation system for rapid transfer of specimens to regional labs.
On Monday, Acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih announced he had relieved deputy minister Ziad Memish from his post.