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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 (January 18) closely monitoring 15 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.

     The patients are 10 men and five women aged from 22 to 82 (median age 49). Among them, 10 have underlying illnesses. Investigations revealed that four had contact with camels and had consumed raw camel milk, one had contact with camels, two are healthcare workers with contact with previously confirmed patients, and one was a household contact of a previously confirmed case. The remaining seven patients' sources of infection are still under investigation.

     In addition, five previously confirmed patients died.

     To date, 1 879 cases have been reported to the WHO, with at least 666 deaths. Of note, 1 663 were confirmed in 10 Middle East countries, with 1 519 in the KSA, 79 in the United Arab Emirates, 28 in Jordan, 16 in Qatar, eight 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," 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 following pages for more information and health advice: the MERS pages of the CHP and the Travel Health Service, MERS statistics in affected areas, the CHP's Facebook Page and 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 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 10:14
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