(MENAFN - Arab News) The second International Conference on Mass Gathering Medicine, which concluded in Riyadh on Monday, called for intensive global investigation of MERS coronavirus to help uncover its mode of transmission, transition rate, the level of exposure and susceptible hosts.
The three-day conference, which was inaugurated by Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, focused on coronavirus, which has already infected 130 people in the world.
The virus has infected 109 people and caused 49 fatalities in the Kingdom.
The delegates also observed that the death rate was high during the initial outbreak of the disease. The death rate, the minister said, was lowered subsequently due to preventive and curative measures taken by nations.
More than 1,000 local and international delegates, including health ministers from 15 countries, took part in the conference discussions. The Ministry of Health organized the conference in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Al-Rabeeah assured delegates on the second day of the event that this year's Haj season would be coronavirus-free because of the tight quarantine measures undertaken for arriving Haj pilgrims at entry points in the Western Province.
Experts pointed out that England is engaged in a research study on the virus. Based on studies conducted in countries such as Britain, France, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the study found that the virus has an incubation period of 13 days and can be transmitted to others.
According to the study, severe complications arose in cases where patients already suffered from chronic ailments such as diabetes, renal and cardiac diseases.
The delegates felt that although there is no definite source for this infection, bats and camels are the likely sources identified at present. The conference stressed the need for experts to conduct genetic research in the relevant field.
Delegates were of the view that pilgrims must be told to follow basic rules for maintaining personal hygiene to prevent infectious diseases.
The participants also emphasized the need for organizing health awareness programs at the national level in the pilgrims' respective countries.
On the sidelines of the conference, Al-Rabeeah signed two agreements with Chin Young, the visiting South Korean minister of health and welfare, on Sunday on exchange of health information technology and training of doctors.
According to the first agreement, King Fahd Medical City would focus on enhancing bilateral cooperation in the field of health information technology with the Korean Health Ministry. Under the second agreement, South Korea will train Saudi doctors at five specialized hospitals in complicated cases of surgery.
Following the signing ceremony, Al-Rabeeah praised the high level of medical services in South Korea and hoped that the agreements will enhance cooperation between the two ministries in terms of medical research, information technology, exchange of health technology and training of doctors.
Teams of doctors from both countries will perform surgical operations in the Kingdom and South Korea at King Fahd Medical City and at the Advanced Medical Center in South Korea in the field of neurosurgery.
Young, who made a presentation at the inauguration of the conference, said he was highly impressed with the Saudi experience in mass gathering medicine. Earlier, Young said that his country is also in a position to exchange experiences with the Kingdom and other friendly countries in the field of mass gathering medicine.