Update on latest MERS situation in Saudi Arabia

     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (July 26) closely monitoring nine additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), including two deaths, 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 in the places they visit.

     "In view of ongoing detection of MERS cases, the public should remain vigilant. Travellers to the Middle East in the summer vacation should not have contact with camels or consume their raw products. They should also avoid unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     Among the six male and three female patients aged from 24 to 86 (median: 73), eight had underlying illnesses. Three had contact with camels, another two had frequent contact with camels and consumption of their raw milk, and one had contact with previously confirmed patients.

     In addition, four previously confirmed patients died.

     To date, 1 791 cases have been reported to the WHO, including at least 640 deaths. Of note, 1 577 were confirmed in ten Middle East countries, with 1 434 in the KSA, 79 in the United Arabs Emirates, 28 in Jordan, 16 in Qatar, seven in Oman, six in Iran, four in Kuwait, and one each in Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.

     "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," the spokesman 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 these pages for more information and health advice: the MERS page of the CHP and the DH's Travel Health Service, MERS statistics in affected areas, the CHP Facebook Page and 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/Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Issued at HKT 10:05