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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 15) closely monitoring a total of 25 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) between February 26 and March 8, including four fatal cases. The CHP again urged the public to pay special attention to safety during travel, taking due consideration of health risks in the places they visit.

     According to the WHO, the 25 patients are 22 men and three women, aged 23 to 82, with 19 having underlying illnesses. Among them, 11 patients were admitted to a hospital with a MERS outbreak (one patient also has frequent contact with camels and consumed raw camel milk), two worked in this hospital, two had contact with a previously confirmed case, and five other patients have frequent contact with camels and consumed raw camel milk. In addition, one was a healthcare worker while the sources of infection of the remaining four patients are under investigation.

     In addition, two previous confirmed patients died.

     To date, 1 677 cases have been reported to the WHO, including at least 597 deaths. Of note, 1 463 were confirmed in nine Middle East countries, including 1 324 in the KSA, 78 in the United Arab Emirates, 28 in Jordan, 14 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/Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 11:40


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