World Health Organization receives update on MERS cases

MERS update from Saudi Arabia
MERS update from Saudi Arabia | Courtesy of
Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP), a branch of the Department of Health, recently issued an update to the World Health Organization (WHO) about the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) situation in Saudi Arabia.

The CHP has started to closely observe an additional 12 cases of MERS. The patients include five men and seven women between the ages of 28 and 76 years old. One of the patients, a 45-year-old man, died. Four of the patients lived in a compound that is involved in a MERS outbreak.

Health investigators have found connections between a majority of the cases. One of the patients was providing care to another MERS patient; one shows a history of direct contact with camels and sheep; and one was admitted into the same health clinic as a confirmed MERS case. The last five cases had exposure history to known risk factors within 14 days before they showed symptoms; the origin of their illness is still under investigation.

The WHO has received reports of 1,611 MERS cases and 575 people have died in the outbreak. Of the 1,398 cases found in the Middle East, 1,263 were in Saudi Arabia, 13 in Qatar, 28 in Jordan, 76 in the United Arab Emirates, four in Kuwait, six each in Oman and Iran, and oneeach in Yemen and Lebanon.

Health officials have warned the public to be especially aware of MERS and the health risks they take as they travel.

"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,” a CHP spokesman 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.”

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Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection

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