Mike Coston is the Owner/Editor of Avian Flu Diary


The recent surge in MERS cases (48+ cases over 60 days), after a very quiet July and August, serves as a reminder that not only does the MERS coronavirus continues to circulate on the Arabian Peninsula, but that hospitals have frequently been the locus of transmission.

Today the Saudi MOH has announced new Infection Control Procedures to aid in the controlling of the MERS coronavirus, including the designation of 17 MERS receiving hospitals and 3 Centers for Excellence.

The specific infection control advice (the link provided is to an Arabic-only page) appears to concentrate on the basics;

  • Identifying potential cases
  • Use of PPEs and Hand Hygiene
  • Patient Transfer Protocols
  • Notifying the Infectious Disease Hotline

The experience of the past two years has been to see a substantial jump in community, and hospital transmission of the virus during the spring.  The number of cases announced over the past 60 days are comparable to what was reported during this same time period in 2013.


Credit ECDC Epidemiological Update



04 November 2014

A review of recent MERS-CoV cases by the Ministry of Health’s Command & Control Center (CCC) identified the need to update its clinical operations protocols for handling patients who are suspected to, or have the disease. The document has been posted on the CCC website: http://www.moh.gov.sa/ccc

“It is critical that all healthcare workers and facilities, public and private, follow these updated protocols,” said Dr. Anees Sindi, Deputy Commander of the CCC. “With more than 70 percent of recent MERS-CoV cases resulting from secondary infections, mainly acquired in the hospital, we have recognized the need to implement stricter infection-control measures across the health system.

“Sporadic cases of the disease, which are thought to be caused by unprotected contact with camels, are likely to happen,” added Dr. Anees. “Secondary infections, however, should be preventable. One goal of the CCC is to reduce the potential for MERS-CoV to spread, thus protecting the health of patients and healthcare workers. These updated protocols are designed to do just that.”

The guiding principles of the protocols include:

  • All hospital staff must be familiar with the latest MERS-CoV case definition
  • Suspect patients are to be handled with appropriate protection equipment, following all recommended IPC guidelines
  • Patient transfer protocols must be followed
  • Hospital staff are to call the (937) infectious disease hotline to report the case and receive up-to-date guidance

Also, as part of the CCC’s comprehensive preparedness program, the Ministry reiterated that it has created 17 MERS-CoV specialist hospitals across the Kingdom, and has named three centers of excellence for handling complex or difficult cases:

  • Western Province – King Fahad Hospital, Jeddah
  • Central Province – Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Hospital, Riyadh
  • Eastern Province – Dammam Medical Complex

The full set of updated protocols has been distributed to healthcare workers across the regions, who are expected to be familiar and comply with them effective immediately.

The move comes as part of the Ministry’s commitment to building a comprehensive preparedness program based on international best practices and knowledge-based solutions to best serve and protect the people of the Kingdom.

For more information about ways to prevent MERS-CoV, contact the (937) infectious disease hotline or visit the Ministry’s website: http://www.moh.gov.sa/ccc.