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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 (March 1) closely monitoring six additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), including three fatal cases, 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 are six men aged between 34 and 80. Two of them had frequent contact with camels and consumption of raw camel milk, while another one had a history of contact with one of the confirmed patients. The other two patients had no clear history of exposure to the known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. The source of infection of the remaining patient is under investigation.

     To date, 1 644 cases have been reported to the WHO, including at least 590 deaths. Of note, 1 430 were confirmed in nine Middle East countries, including 1 292 in KSA, 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-CoV," 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/Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Issued at HKT 11:20


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