Data review: Mers death toll in Saudi soars to 282
Riyadh, June 3, 2014
Saudi Arabia today raised the death toll in the kingdom from the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) virus to 282 from 190 following a review of health data.
A statement distributed by the Health Ministry in an email said it had also identified an additional 113 confirmed cases of Mers virus that had not been previously recorded, bringing the total to 688.
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 standardisation of testing and better guidelines for labelling 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, was quoted as saying in the emailed statement.
On Monday, the acting health minister, Adel Fakieh, announced he had relieved deputy minister Ziad Memish from his post. Fakieh was appointed in April after King Abdullah sacked his predecessor Abdullah al-Rabeeah following a new Mers outbreak.
Memish was criticised by international scientists interviewed for a Reuters Special Report last month for what they saw as a reluctance to collaborate with some specialist laboratories around the world offering to help investigate the possible source of MERS and explore how it spreads.
He told Reuters then that he was "surprised" by criticism of Saudi Arabia's response to Mers and did not respond to the allegations directly concerning his own role. -Reuters