09 Jun 2014, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: As the MERS death count reached a peak, the Saudi Arabian health minister fought back by sacking one of his deputies.
The ministry said on Twitter that the MERS coronavirus death toll has reached 190. However, the ministry did not give any reasons for the dismissal of deputy minister Mr Ziad Memish.
The official position shuffling has been going on for a while now. Former health minister Mr Abdullah al-Rabiah was dismissed in April without official explanations too. He was then replaced by labour minister Mr Adel Fakieh, who had promised ‘transparency' in providing the public and media with information about the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
SARS that had made a deadly appearance in Asia in 2003 had infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom were reported to be dead. MERS is considered to be a deadlier but less transmissible cousin of the SARS virus.
MERS is said to cause rapid kidney failure, although its symptoms are very alike the ones in SARS - lung infection, coughing, breathing difficulties and a temperature.
Saudi is the worst-hit country and the most affected of the virus that first appeared in September 2012. Earlier last month, Mr Fakieh had sacked the head of the King Fahd Hospital in the western city of Jeddah, where a rise in MERS infections among medical staff had sparked panic among the public. The official report of the Kingdom pointed out that the total number of infections was now 575.
Even as Saudi continues to battle, about 18 other countries are battling the virus. The virus has been imported to more than a dozen other countries and all those cases have involved people who fell sick while in the Middle East.