The Saudi Arabian Health Ministry announced Tuesday the removal of the head of  the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah as part of its move to deal with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) crisis in the Kingdom.


Acting Minister of Health Adel Fakeih has said the country’s supreme authorities had given instructions to make all-out efforts to get the required human resources to deal with the crisis.

According to Fakeih, the ministry has appointed new administrative officials at King Fahd Hospital and is assessing with Health Affairs officials in Makkah and Jeddah the need for immediately appointing a qualified medical team at the hospital. “The new team will immediately take up its duties,” he said.

The move comes as the World Health Organization expert team wrapped up 5-day mission to Saudi Arabia to assist the national health authorities to assess the recent increase in the number of people infected by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Jeddah.

The team looked into the epidemiological, disease prevention, organizational and communication aspects of this recent outbreak to understand the public health risk and transmission chain and to propose next steps and actions.

After meeting health officials in the capital, WHO experts visited two main hospitals in Jeddah to analyse transmission patterns and review infection control measures. 

Related: Philippines: Negrense nurse working in Saudi Arabia dies from MERS coronavirus

Key findings of the Jeddah outbreak include the following.

Current evidence does not suggest that a recent increase in numbers reflects a significant change in the transmissibility of the virus. The upsurge in cases can be explained by an increase, possibly seasonal, in the number of primary cases amplified by several outbreaks in hospitals due to breaches in WHO’s recommended infection prevention and control measures. There is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission in the community and the transmission pattern overall remained unchanged.

The majority of human-to-human infections occurred in health care facilities. One quarter of all cases have been health care workers.  There is a clear need to improve health care workers’ knowledge and attitudes about the disease and systematically apply WHO’s recommended infection prevention and control measures in health care facilities. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.

 The reasons for the increase in the number of primary community cases, as well as the infection route, remain unknown. Three quarters of all primary community cases have been male, the majority of whom have been over 50 years old. Secondary transmission in the community and households is much lower than in health care settings.

As of 3 May, 489 cases, including 126 deaths, were reported to WHO globally and 406 cases, including 101 deaths, from Saudi Arabia. These numbers can change from one day to the next according to when Member States inform WHO.