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Some Public Health Experts Concerned Over Saudi Arabia’s Response To SARS-Like Virus

“A SARS-like virus has infected 15 people, nine of whom have died, mostly in Saudi Arabia, worrying some Western scientists who question whether the kingdom is sharing enough critical data on the outbreak,” “[b]ut a top Saudi Arabia health official rejected those complaints on Tuesday and said the virus posed a low risk of pandemic,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Of the deaths confirmed in humans since April, six have occurred in Saudi Arabia, including three since February, said the World Health Organization, which has issued a global alert,” according to the newspaper. “In the SARS outbreak a decade ago, China drew international criticism for issuing slow and contradictory accounts of the first cases,” and “[s]ome European and American scientists who played central roles in the SARS outbreak have expressed concern that Saudi Arabia isn’t sharing critical information on the new coronavirus, which has been known to cause everything from the common cold to SARS,” the Wall Street Journal writes, noting that Saudi Deputy Health Minister Ziad Memish said, “We don’t take it lightly, we’re watching very closely, and we think the whole scientific community should be doing the same” (Knickmeyer/McKay, 3/19).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.