DH closely monitors two additional MERS cases in UAE

     The Department of Health (DH) is today (June 29) closely monitoring two additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and again urged the public to pay special attention to safety during travel, taking due consideration of health risks of the places of visit.

     According to the WHO, the cases include:

* A female asymptomatic family contact aged 46 of a previously confirmed patient; and
* A male asymptomatic family contact aged 11 of a previously confirmed patient.

     In addition, a previously confirmed patient died.

     To date, in addition to the 181 laboratory-confirmed MERS cases in Korea and one exported to Mainland China, 1 175 have been reported to the WHO, including at least 453 deaths. Of note, 1 149 cases were confirmed in nine Middle East countries, including 1 031 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), 76 in the UAE, 13 in Qatar, 12 in Jordan, six each in Iran and Oman, three in Kuwait, and one each in Lebanon and Yemen.

     "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 (HCFs)," a spokesman for the DH advised.

     "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. We strongly advise travel agents organising tours to the Middle East to abstain from arranging camel rides and activities involving direct contact with camels, which are a known risk factor for acquiring MERS," the spokesman said.

     According to the WHO, among recently exported cases in which patients performed Umrah in the KSA, investigations revealed that they had either visited an HCF or had come into contact with camels or raw camel products in the KSA. As Ramadan began in mid-June, pilgrims going to the KSA for Umrah should be vigilant against MERS.

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

Ends/Monday, June 29, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:10