Via Arab News: 81-year-old woman is latest coronavirus victim. I've already mentioned both the case and the photo, but Arab News dragged out this AFP file photo again, and that says something about the way the Saudis are handling their crisis communications.
Look at the photo: The patient appears to be a male in his 30s or 40s, and in pretty good shape. He's alert, talking, not even hooked up to an IV, never mind being intubated, and the hospital room looks clean but shabby.
The three officials look sublimely indifferent to the threat of infection. The guy in front puts his hand on the same part of the bedframe the patient also has his hand on. Another official holds a digital recorder to record the patient's comments.
So I have a few questions: Is this a real AFP photo of a real MERS patient? If so, has anyone recently checked the temperatures of the other three guys?
And if the Saudi authorities think this kind of photo will help to allay public anxiety, could they please consult someone who knows about crisis communications, and then get back to us?
By comparison, consider this photo of the 7-year-old girl who scared the world when she came down with H7N9 in Beijing.
She's clearly a very, very sick kid. In a country without a scrap of health insurance, she's been put in a modern room with all the medical technology money can buy—plus a stuffed bunny.
All this makes me think that the Saudis, with all their wealth, could buy all the stuffed bunnies in the world. But they can't buy a dime's worth of common sense.