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Wed 22 Apr 2015 02:42 PM

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MERS cases dramatically decline, says Saudi health chief

The fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus appears to be receding, according to Health Ministry official

MERS cases dramatically decline, says Saudi health chief
(Getty Images)

The fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus appears to be receding, according to Saudi Arabian health officials.

Health Ministry undersecretary for public health Dr Abdulaziz Bin Saeed said the number of reported cases had dramatically declined in recent months.

“In February last year we used to have about six cases every day. Now we often do not have more than a single isolated case in a day,” he was quoted by Saudi Gazette as saying.

“It is good to see the virus receding but it is too early for people to think that the virus has forever gone.”

There have been more than 1000 confirmed cases of the virus, which was first detected in Saudi Arabia in September, 2012.

MERS has spread to several other countries, with more than 350 confirmed deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The virus was almost considered of epidemic proportions a year ago, but the number of cases has steadily declined.

Medical experts have been struggling to create a vaccine or determine exactly how the virus is spread, although it is believed to have originated in camels.

Bin Saeed said it was still premature to talk about a vaccine.

“This issue may take a long time to resolve and a lot of experimental work has to be done,” he was quoted as saying.

“The virus itself is ambiguous in its characteristics and features.”

The WHO in February criticised the kingdom’s poor infection control measures in hospitals for allowing the virus to spread among health professionals.

Two health ministers have been fired since MERS evolved.

Bin Saeed said he was satisfied with the improving levels of detection and prevention.

“This is a positive sign indicating the success of precautionary measures being taken against the spread of the deadly virus,” he said.

“The awareness programs about the virus and the best methods of protection have effectively contributed to containing its spread.”

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