Deaths from Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome have risen in Saudi Arabia. Health officials say they are concerned as the country is preparing to host millions of people for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
Saudi Authorities have recorded 19 fatalities in one week from the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronovirus.
A total of 502 people have died in the kingdom since the virus first appeared in 2012.
The number of MERS infections has also surged to 1,171 cases, according to the Saudi health ministry website.
A surge in infections forced health authorities to shut the emergency room at a main hospital in Riyadh last week after at least 46 people, including medical staff, contracted MERS.
With Saudi Arabia preparing to host more than two million Muslims from all over the world next month for the annual hajj to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, health authorities are concerned about the safety of the pilgrims. Saudi Arabia is the country worst hit by the coronavirus.
MERS is considered a deadlier but less infectious relative of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus that appeared in Asia in 2003 and killed hundreds of people, mostly in China.
Symptoms can include fever, coughing, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.
The framework has three components:
Enhance effectiveness of subject identification. By updating its outdated biometric collection systems with current biometric technology, DHS will more efficiently collect high-quality biometric data. It will also centralize access to federal and international biometric databases to reduce complexity, eliminate duplication of effort and standardize communications with partners. Other objectives include improving real-time access from field location and employing a layered identity verification approach that expands the use of multi-modal biometrics beyond fingerprints.
Transform identity operations to optimize performance. By automating identity verification, DHS expects to reduce processing time and enhance security. Shifting from an encounter-based to a “person-centric” view will make collected data available to more applications, improving decision making across the agency. DHS also will work to identify and exploit ways to further implement biometrics to verify identity and reduce vulnerabilities and fraud.
Refine processes and policies to promote innovation. DHS intends to develop joint requirements to more efficiently address overlapping mission needs and oversight requirements, establish department-wide biometrics authorities and implement standardized solutions to minimize maintenance of duplicative services.
With this integrated, enterprise biometric framework that leverages the latest technologies, DHS aims to ensure national security and public safety while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of agency operations.