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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 22) closely monitoring a total of four additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on March 13 and 14. 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 patients are four men aged 33 to 60. Among them, a 45-year-old man had a history of frequent camel contact and consumption of raw camel milk, a 47-year-old man had contact with a previously confirmed case and a 33-year-old man was linked to a MERS outbreak in a local hospital. The source of infection of the remaining patient, aged 60, is under investigation.

     In addition, two previous confirmed patients died.

     To date, 1 694 cases have been reported to the WHO, including at least 605 deaths. Of note, 1 480 were confirmed in nine Middle East countries, with 1 341 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 22, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:01


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