Fears of Deadly Outbreaks Increase in Saudi Arabia


Two patients with possible Ebola symptoms are said to have escaped from a health center in the Madinah province of Saudi Arabia, according to local health workers. The news comes after the Ministry of Health announced another death from the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS), heightening the fears of possible outbreak during the Hajj pilgrimage.

News reports claim that two Africans suspected of carrying the Ebola virus fled from a health center in Al-Ais in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah province. No official information has been released, but anonymous sources from the staff said that the two men arrived to seek help at the rural health center, complaining of difficulty breathing and blood in the urine. Although they didn’t have high temperature, the doctor recommended transferring to a hospital for full medical examination and treatment. After they were asked for residency permits, passports, or any other documentation, they ran away before the arrival of the police. According to the Health Affairs Directorate in Madinah, the patients were from an East African region, which is not affected by Ebola. However, their identity and nationality is still unclear, as well as their health condition.

On Monday, the kingdom’s Ministry of Health said in a statement that a 72-year-old man died after suffering from the MERS coronavirus, which has infected at least 838 people since its detection in September 2012. The death toll, according to official data from the World Health Organization is at least 291, but Saudi Arabia has reported several hundred cases, which haven’t been taken into account by the UN health agency.

The current MERS infections and the fear of the dangerous Ebola virus, which is killing more than half of the carriers in West Africa has raised an alert in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular. The country welcomes millions of pilgrims each year during the annual Umrah that ended earlier this month and the Hajj. As a precaution, the government banned pilgrims from the Ebola-affected countries and put restrictions for issuing visas and entry permits. Now, the Civil Service Minister Abdul Rahman Al Barrak said that employees at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque will be compensated for the being exposed to various diseases. They will receive a 10-15% increase of the salaries for risking getting a potentially deadly infection.


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