SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Hong Kong agency advises tourist vigilance in MERS-affected Mideast nations

The Center for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health for the government of Hong Kong is advising the public on Friday to pay attention to any respiratory problems that develop while traveling in Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations.

The CHP, along with the World Health Organization (WHO), is monitoring several cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia in the latest outbreak.

"Travelers to the Middle East should avoid going to farms, barns or markets with camels; avoid contact with sick persons and animals, especially camels, birds or poultry; and avoid unnecessary visits to health care facilities," WHO said. "We strongly advise travel agents organizing tours to the Middle East to abstain from arranging camel rides and activities involving direct contact with camels, which are known risk factors for acquiring MERS Coronavirus. We will maintain close communication with the WHO and relevant health authorities."

WHO has reported 1,583 patients with MERS across the entire Middle East region, with the most (1,240) in Saudi Arabia. Other countries with confirmed cases of MERS include the United Arab Emirates (76), Jordan (23), Qatar (13), Iran (6), Oman (6), Kuwait (4), Lebanon (1) and Yemen (1).
 
Travelers to the Middle East should be aware of the MERS virus statistics in the specific country they are visiting and maintain high vigilance. As always, good hygiene and safe food preparation are strongly advised while in MERS-affected countries.

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