During the roughly 3-month gap in reporting by the Saudi MOH on MERS-CoV cases - which was finally broken last week (see The Saudi MOH Breaks Their Silence On MERS-CoV) - the Saudi Press and even Arabic language social media (primarily twitter) were nearly equally as silent on كورونا cases.
Since the MOH began reporting again last week, however, both the Saudi Press and Twitter have begun to talk about MERS.With the annual Hajj expected to start in 10 days time, and with several million religious pilgrims either already arrived or en-route, I'm sure the last thing the authorities want to deal with are rumors of a MERS outbreak.
But that is exactly what has been circulating on Arabic social media the past 24 hours. The MOH has taken to social media, and the local press, to refute these rumors - although the language used is quite specific, and it isn't exactly a denial of any cases.
This from Al-Ahsa Health's Twitter account.
A media report, based on this statement, provides a few more details:
Al Ahsa Health: No validity to record a large number of cases of the Corona virus
Al-Ahsa Health said in a statement on its website that what is currently circulating from the registration of a large number of confirmed cases of the Corona virus is incorrect and we confirm that the health facilities in the province of Al-Ahsa is ready to detect cases of infectious diseases, including cases with the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Corona) .
There is no fear of dealing with such cases, since in the case of registration of any case is isolated in a section equipped and developed and is handled according to standards and applications of infection control, which ensures that the disease does not spread from the patient to others.
Again, not exactly a blanket denial of any cases. But we are dealing with machine translations, and we need to be careful not to read too much into the nuances of the translated text.
As to what, if anything, may be happening with MERS in Al-Ahsa, we'll have to wait for official confirmation from the MOH.