Saudi King dismisses health minister over MERS cases

Riyadh, April 22: Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud relieved Health Minister Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah of his post Monday, appointing him as advisor at the Royal Court, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The decision came a day after Al-Rabia announced the rise in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infections to 244 since the first diagnosed case in 2012. He also announced 97 deaths due to the virus, Xinhua reported.

Although he assured the public that the death risk of the virus has reduced from 60 percent to 32 percent, there has been a state of panic among people. They prefer home remedies for simple illnesses out of fear that they will get the infection from hospitals, according to local newspapers.

Adel bin Mohammed Faqih, the minister for labour, was given the extra responsibility of acting as health minister besides continuing as the minister of labour.

Saudi Arabia has been in close contact with five international medicine companies to develop a vaccine to protect people from the infection.

IANS