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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 (June 14) closely monitoring 35 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), including three 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 the health risks in the places they visit.

     Among the 18 male and 17 female patients aged from 24 to 84, 12 had underlying illnesses. Investigations revealed that three had contact with camels or consumed camel milk, and 30 (including 18 healthcare workers) had contact with confirmed patients. Of note, 32 of them were associated with three nosocomial clusters, of which two were related.

     In addition, one previously confirmed patient has died.

     To date, 2 015 cases have been reported to the WHO, with at least 703 deaths. There have been 1 799 cases in 10 Middle East countries including 1 648 in the KSA, 83 in the United Arab Emirates, 28 in Jordan, 19 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.

     As Ramadan will last until late June, pilgrims going to the KSA for Umrah should be vigilant against MERS. The CHP has launched a new poster to enhance health education for the public and pilgrims travelling to the Middle East on prevention against MERS.

     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 MERS page of the CHP and its Travel Health Service, MERS statistics in affected areas, the CHP's Facebook Page and YouTube Channel, and the WHO's latest news for more information and health advice. Tour leaders and tour guides operating overseas tours are advised to refer to the CHP's health advice on MERS.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:59
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