On Monday we looked at 4 weekend MERS cases, 3 of which were hospital acquired - and 2 of those asymptomatic. Cases were reported from Riyadh (n=3), and Bisha (n=1). There have been persistent rumors (denied by the MOH) on social media of a larger outbreak in Bisha.
Yesterday the MOH announced 'No New Corona Cases Recorded, but what their report actually showed was a death in Bisha, and another asymptomatic case in Riyadh.
Unfortunately, they did not release any details in English, and the Arabic descriptions were in jpg format, and not machine translatable. Why they sometimes post Arabic on their English language page is unknown.
Today we learn of two more Health Care related infections, one of an HCW in Bisha, and the other of a patient in Riyadh. The patient in Riyadh is in critical condition, while the HCW in Bisha is asymptomatic.
Seven cases over the past 4 days - involving 2 hospital clusters - isn't exactly a flood, but it does represent a spike over what we've been seeing these past few months.
And it comes, inconveniently, barely a week before the start of the Holy month of Ramadan which will see tens of thousands of religious pilgrims entering the Kingdom to perform Umrah.While each year we've seen concerns over the international spread of MERS by religious pilgrims embarking on the Hajj or during Ramadan, so far, neither has sparked an outbreak.
Nevertheless, public health officials around the world will be alert for any signs of infection among returning travelers.