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Update on latest MERS situation in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (January 27) closely monitoring six additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), including one death, reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 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 five men and a woman aged between 50 and 85. The two patients from the UAE comprise a 73-year-old man and an 85-year-old woman. The male patient had frequent camel contact and passed away on January 25, and the asymptomatic female patient was a contact of the deceased. The four patients in the KSA comprise two men aged 50 and 59 in critical condition, and two men aged 54 and 85 in stable condition. All of them had frequent camel contact or had consumed raw camel milk.

     To date, 1 633 cases have been reported to the WHO, including at least 587 deaths. Of note, 1 419 were confirmed in nine Middle East countries, including 1 281 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 78 in the United Arab Emirates, 28 in Jordan, 13 in Qatar, seven in Oman, six in Iran, four 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 said.

     "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 WHO'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, January 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:39


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