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Update on latest MERS situation in Korea and KSA

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (June 24) closely monitoring four additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reported by Korea and five additional cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

     According to the preliminary information of the health authority of Korea, the cases in Korea are:

* A patient who was hospitalised in the same ward with a confirmed case in Konkuk University Medical Centre on June 6;
* A patient who had contact with another confirmed case in Samsung Medical Center during the period from May 27 to 29;
* A family member of a patient who was hospitalised in Bagae Hospital during the period from May 29 to June 6; and
* A healthcare worker who had contact with three other confirmed cases.

     To date, 178 MERS cases have been confirmed by Korea. In addition, another case was exported from Korea to Mainland China.

     Meanwhile, according to the WHO, the five cases in KSA involve two men and three women aged 28 to 69 who have underlying illnesses. They had onset of symptoms between May 23 and June 12. One patient has a history of contact with camels as well as consuming their raw milk, while three other patients had visited healthcare facilities with MERS outbreaks and the remaining patient's history of exposure to known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms is ongoing. All patients are currently hospitalised for treatment. In addition, five previously confirmed patients died.

     To date, in addition to the laboratory-confirmed MERS cases involved in the outbreak in Korea, 1 172 cases have been reported to the WHO, including at least 452 deaths. Of note, 1 147 cases globally were confirmed in nine Middle East countries, including 1 031 in the KSA, 74 in the United Arab Emirates, 13 in Qatar, 12 in Jordan, six each in Iran and Oman, three in Kuwait, and one each in Lebanon and Yemen.

     "We again urge the public to pay special attention to safety during travel, taking due consideration of health risks of the places of visit," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     "In view of the latest situation in Korea, the public should avoid unnecessary travel to Korea, in particular those with chronic illnesses. Travellers in Korea and the Middle East should avoid unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities. In addition, travellers to the Middle East should avoid going to farms, barns or markets with camels, and avoid contact with sick persons and animals, especially camels, birds or poultry," the spokesman advised.

     The CHP will maintain close communication with the WHO and the relevant health authorities. Members of the public and the healthcare sector should heighten vigilance and stay alert to the latest situation.

Ends/Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:23


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