With the WHO IHR Emergency Committee meeting over whether to declare MERS a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern) still undecided, the Saudi Ministry of Health this afternoon has released a lengthy `package’ of control measures designed to contain the virus.
What follows is a long, but fairly readable machine translation from the Arabic, which outlines (in very broad strokes) a series of steps they intend to take to contain the virus.
The goals set are laudable ones; instituting better infection control, setting up an expert task force, reviewing hospital readiness, and auditing all cases detected in all hospitals and health centers since the outbreak began . . . but they are also steps nearly two years overdue.
The plans described in this statement are also nebulous and very short on specifics, making it difficult to know exactly what changes are planned.
Saying `The Centre will work to meet the challenges of emergency health’ is nice, but knowing exactly how they plan to do that would be nicer. Similarly, stating they will institute `a set of strict guidelines updated to contain the risks of contagion’ – without spelling out (or linking to) those guidelines – is something less than confidence inspiring.
Hopefully today’s announcement is simply the overture to a much more detailed plan that will let us to see exactly how the Saudi government plans to address their MERS epidemic going forward.
Announced today his Excellency engineer Adel bin Muhammad fakieh, Minister of health, a package of new measures to counter the coronavirus that causes AIDS Middle East. The new measures include instructions to contain the risks of contagion, the establishment of specialized units under the control center to fight AIDS Middle East.
The Centre will work to meet the challenges of emergency health and consists of several units, the control tower, the coordinating unit with the relevant authorities, the Scientific Committee, Scientific Advisory Board, Epidemiology Unit, Centre and infection control, capacity building, health centre, information analysis unit, internal and external communication unit, labs and diagnostic phases.
The new measures include the following:
- A set of strict guidelines updated to contain the risks of contagion, and a new profile of health conditions.
- Appoint a group of experts as a task force for rapid intervention with a view to monitoring the response while dealing with the situations in the various regions of the Kingdom.
- Activate the strict review of current capacity in health-care facilities in the Kingdom.
- Comprehensive audit of the number of cases detected in all hospitals and health centres in the Kingdom since the advent of AIDS Middle East.
In this regard, his Excellency Adel Mohamed Fakih: "upgrade package of the new procedures announced by the Ministry of health, the level of safeguards to address the risk of the spread of the infection, they also raise the level of readiness of the health sector to deal with future challenges. We guarantee the readiness of medical facilities in all regions of the Kingdom and its full readiness to deal with health conditions over a set of strict guidelines that come in the best and the latest global health practices in order to provide the highest level of patient care and at the same time, to protect the health and safety of the rest of society. "
In turn, said Dr. Tariq Ahmed Madani, independent medical consultant Department of health: "this action is activated today will contribute to fostering our position to address current public health challenges, including new profile and it will be based on the guidance specialists in clinics and hospitals in their dealings with health conditions, and the development of its information and its group of specialists, experts and doctors, as well as international bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for disease control and prevention."
Infection control guidelines, and case definition:
In addition to issuing a new profile of health conditions, have also been a series of stringent health guidelines to contain the spread of the infection, and circulated to all health care facilities in the Kingdom. The new guidance includes best practices in global health to deal with suspected cases and cases of HIV positive Corona, as well as offering tips to be followed to contain the risks of the spread of HIV in health-care facilities and the community at large.
Teams of specialists for rapid intervention, oversees public health challenges:
The task force is set to surge to Corona virus infection and future health challenges. The band is composed of scholars, researchers and health-care experts and specialists in infectious diseases. The Group of specialists as a unified central leadership to ensure rapid response to deal with cases of corona virus in all parts of the Kingdom, as well as other challenges related to current health status and ensuring that movement in the right direction quickly and make the most of the possibilities and available resources, and ensure the implementation of all relevant procedures correctly.
In this context, Dr. Tariq Ahmed Madani, said: "the Medical Council which I oversee will be part of a new rapid reaction force, so we can update our role in the face of the coronavirus and all future challenges in this regard."
Check current absorption capacities in all major health care facilities:
The Ministry of health is currently reviewing and auditing the absorptive capacities of major hospitals in order to ensure readiness for dealing with cases of infection, including preview of intensive care units and isolation units in major hospitals in the Kingdom. The Ministry is also reviewing additional requirements needed by medical personnel for management and operation of these units.
Audit preparation and patients since the outbreak of Corona:
The Ministry of health audit and review all the corona virus infection to ensure application of the principles of transparency in handling information be available to the general community. It is expected to publish the results of its checks within weeks to monitor all cases of the disease in the Kingdom since the middle of the respiratory syndrome. The move also aims to identify the response of those cases and similar, as well as obtain medical information that can add to the stock of information in the Ministry of health in its efforts to cope with the coronavirus.