By Courtney Trenwith
Public fears of a major MERS outbreak in Jeddah after a hospital was forced to sterilise entire emergency dept, set-up exclusion zone after health workers contracted disease
A Saudi hospital has been forced to close its emergency department after an outbreak of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, including among medical staff.
The emergency department at King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah was closed earlier this week after four additional MERS cases, including two health workers, were confirmed on Monday, according to the Sabq.org online newspaper. Patients were being transferred to other hospitals in the city while the department was sterilised.
The Ministry of Health has set up an exclusion zone to monitor the virus in the city, according to Arab News.
“Six teams have been working to monitor and conduct preventive measures. Cases are being referred to regional diagnostic laboratories for detailed examination and also to take preventive measures,” the health department director was quoted as saying.
The news has caused widespread concern in Jeddah and fuelled rumours on social networks.
Makkah Governor Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah has met with Ministry of Health director general and urged precautionary measures be introduced to avoid further infection at other hospitals.
“We have to adopt health measures to ensure the safety of citizens and residents from the virus and educate the public on how to protect themselves from MERS,” the governor was quoted as saying.
A paramedic at King Abdul Aziz Hospital in Jeddah is one of the latest victims of the disease, which was first detected in Saudi Arabia, where 66 people have now died from MERS.
The Makkah director general of health confirmed 11 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Jeddah, with two deaths, while six others have been cured and three patients are being treated.
There are also seven new suspected cases.