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Update on latest MERS situation in Saudi Arabia

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (August 19) closely monitoring 12 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), including one death, reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), 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 patients comprise nine men and three women aged 45 to 99 (median age: 64). They experienced onset of symptoms between July 29 and August 8. A 73-year-old patient passed away. Nine patients are in critical condition while two others are in stable condition.

     Among them, all have underlying illnesses, nine are admitted to hospitals with MERS outbreaks, one is a contact of a previously confirmed patient and another had frequent contact with camels and consumption of raw camel milk.

     In addition, one previously confirmed patient died.

     To date, 1 413 cases have been reported to the WHO, including at least 502 deaths. Of note, 1 200 were confirmed in nine Middle East countries, including 1 082 in the KSA, 76 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.

     "Travellers 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 healthcare facilities. 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 known risk factors for acquiring MERS Coronavirus," a spokesman for the CHP advised.

     "We will maintain close communication with the WHO and relevant health authorities," the spokesman added.

     Travellers to affected areas should maintain vigilance, adopt appropriate health precautions and take heed of personal, food and environmental hygiene. The public may visit the pages below for more information and health advice:

* The CHP's MERS page (;
* MERS statistics in affected areas (;
* The MERS page of the DH's Travel Health Service (;
* The CHP Facebook Page (;
* The CHP YouTube Channel (; and
* The World Health Organization's latest news (

     Tour leaders and tour guides operating overseas tours are advised to refer to the CHP's health advice on MERS (

Ends/Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Issued at HKT 12:50


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