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WSJ Blog Examines Saudi Arabia’s Response To MERS In Lead Up To Hajj

“Saudi Arabia continues to report sporadic new cases and deaths from a lethal new coronavirus, as hajj season in October — when the kingdom expects more than three million pilgrims from 187 countries — approaches,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Middle East Real Time” blog reports. “As of Friday, the Saudi Ministry of Health said it had confirmed 84 cases, with 42 deaths, countrywide from” MERS-CoV, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, according to the blog. In a recorded briefing Friday at the University of Florida College of Public Health, Ziad Memish, Saudi Arabia’s deputy health minister, “said that the kingdom had recommended, but not ordered, that children, the elderly, the ill, and some others forgo the hajj this year, because of the virus,” the blog reports, noting, “The Saudi Health Ministry did not immediately respond to emails, phone calls and text messages this week and last seeking a briefing on the kingdom’s MERS preparations for the hajj or answers to questions on the outbreak.” The blog includes quotes from several travelers entering or leaving the kingdom who discuss the lack of public health advisories (Knickmeyer, 9/2).