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Concerns On WHO SARS-Like Cornavirus Reporting Delays
Recombinomics Commentary 19:15
November 24, 2012

WHO reported a cluster of four cases in October in a family living in the same household in Saudi Arabia, in which a father and son both fell ill with symptoms including pneumonia, fever and respiratory problems. The father, 70, died after developing renal failure. His son was hospitalized shortly afterward and died four days later after multiorgan failure. The son was confirmed with the coronavirus while the father's results are pending.

A new case of coronavirus infection was discovered in Riyadh, according to a statement by the Ministry of Health Tuesday.

“A citizen who visited one of the hospitals in Riyadh complaining of flu-like symptoms raised suspicion. Following appropriate tests and after cross checking the results in an specialized lab abroad, it was confirmed that the man tested positive for the virus," the statement said.

It said the patient was given appropriate treatment and his condition has improved.

The ministry asked the public not to panic, as the infection does not lead to serious complications.

The above comments are from recent media reports describing the most recent SARS-like cases involving a novel betacoronavirus.  As noted in the first report (in red), all four were from the same family and developed symptoms in October.  The second report (in blue) described the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health (MoH) press release which described the case that was confirmed and survived.  The MoH report claims that the infection does not lead to serious complication (see bold above), even though two of the four family members died.

These four cases were described in the WHO November 23 update, which appears to be describing cases a month after the fact, which includes two fatal cases and an absence of test results on the father, who appears to be the index case.

The WHO report withheld the most basic facts on these cases (age, gender, and disease onset dates), which appear to strongly support human to human transmission in October, during the peak period of the Hajj.

The reporting delays and withholding of detail on these cases raises concerns that the novel betacornavirus in Saudi Arabia and Qatar in October has been been dispersed worldwide via Hajj attendees and the WHO is now getting additional reports of cases outside of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, leading to the suggestion for more widespread testing.

The failure of the WHO to promptly report these cases, with appropriate detail, during the Hajj represents a serious hazard to the world’s health.

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