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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 (February 13) closely monitoring 17 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), including four 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 12 men and five women aged from 27 to 75 (median age: 57). Among them, 13 have underlying illnesses, nine had contact with camels or consumed camel milk, and one is a health care worker who had contact with a previously confirmed patient.
     In addition, three previously confirmed patients died.
     To date, 1 905 cases have been reported to the WHO, with at least 677 deaths. Of note, 1 689 were confirmed in 10 Middle East countries, with 1 545 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/Monday, February 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 10:42
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