On April 21, after Saudi King Abdullah al Rabeeah told a news conference he had no idea why the Middle East Respiratory-Coronavirus, or MERS, was surging and leading to hundreds of death, Saudi Arabia fired its health minister. “Surprisingly” this scapegoating did nothing to resolve the problem and overnight Reuters reported that yet another Saudi health official had lost his job: “Saudi Arabia has sacked Deputy Health Minister Ziad Memish who has been criticized by some international scientists over his handling of the deadly MERS virus that has infected 575 people in the kingdom and spread around the world. Memish was a key figure in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to contain the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a virus that causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia.”
“Acting Health Minister Adel Fakieh has issued a decision today to relieve Deputy Health Minister Doctor Ziad Memish from his position,” said a statement posted on the ministry’s website in Arabic on Monday. It did not elaborate.
Memish was criticized by international scientists interviewed for a Reuters Special Report last month for what they saw as a reluctance to collaborate with some specialist laboratories around the world offering to help investigate the possible source of MERS and explore how it spreads.