Saudi replaces health minister amid Mers fears
Riyadh, April 21, 2014
Saudi Arabian King Abdullah on Monday removed Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah from his post, state television announced.
His duties will be taken over by Labour Minister Adel Fakieh, the TV channel said, citing the king's royal decree.
Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it had confirmed 13 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), a Sars-like virus.
This took the number of new cases in the last six days to 49, a sudden increase of a disease that kills about a third of the people infected and has no cure so far, said an Arab News report.
The virus has infected 244 people in the Kingdom, of whom 75 have died, the Health Ministry was quoted as saying in the report.
Al-Rabeeah had said there was no scientific evidence yet to justify ordering additional preventative measures such as travel restrictions.
Al-Rabeeah said of the 13 new infections reported on Sunday, seven were in Jeddah, four in Riyadh and one each in Madinah and Najran.
Meanwhile, a delegation from an international pharmaceutical company will soon visit the Kingdom to explore with Health Ministry officials the possibility of manufacturing vaccines for the Mers.
The name of the company is yet to be known, but sources said it would take at least three months to begin production in the kingdom, the Arab News report said.
Al-Rabeeah said no Mers cases have been reported in the Kingdom’s schools.