I'm back up, at least for the time being. Here's an email I received overnight from an expat in Riyadh:
I live in Riyadh, and teach Saudi students.
#48 High School on the King Saud University campus (Riyadh) was closed this week because of two confirmed cases of MERS. Sister of my student is a student there. Not reported in international press.
The brother of another student is a nurse at the general hospital in Jeddah.
He believes that there are over 300 patients CURRENTLY being treated for flu-like symptoms, and that if the influx of cases continues, the hospital will close its doors to new patients in about 2 weeks. This has not been confirmed by any source, however. This number, from one hospital in one city, dwarfs the numbers provided by KSA about country-wide cases over the last two years (totaling about 250 cases). I wish someone could check on this?
The king usually announces his change of residence to Jeddah a month closer to Ramadan (he spends winters in Riyadh). It was announced today. That it was announced so early to me seems like a maneuver to help quell growing unease in Jeddah; after all, if the king is coming, then nothing to worry about, right?
I am concerned about the lack of coverage and accurate data being given this issue.
Because of the nature of press freedom in KSA, please do not provide my name in any press releases.
I should point out that I don't know the source; he sounds reasonable, but his statements are hearsay. As such, they at least convey something of the public mood in Riyadh, and the mention of the king moving to Jeddah early is an important one—when a health threat emerges, some senior leader bravely goes into the hot zone to show all is well. Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien did something similar when SARS in Toronto all but ruined the city's Chinese restaurants; Chretien marched his whole cabinet into a prominent eatery for a hearty (and predictably SARS-free) dinner.