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Update on latest MERS situation in United Arab Emirates
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (August 29) closely monitoring an additional case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 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.

     "Travellers to the Middle East, particularly in the summer vacation, 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 (MERS-CoV)," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     "As the Hajj pilgrimage will begin soon, pilgrims visiting Mecca, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), should be vigilant against MERS. Those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic renal disease and immunodeficiency, are more likely to develop severe infections if they are exposed to MERS-CoV. Pilgrims should hence consult healthcare providers before travel to review the risk and assess whether pilgrimage is advisable. Pilgrims visiting Mecca may refer to the DH's advice," the spokesman added.

     According to the WHO, the patient is a 54-year-old male working and living in the UAE. He developed symptoms on July 11 and tested positive for MERS-CoV on July 25. The patient was placed in an intensive care unit. Investigations into the source of infection are ongoing. 

     To date, 2 067 cases have been reported to the WHO, with at least 720 deaths. There have been 1 851 cases in 10 Middle East countries including 1 698 in the KSA, 84 in the UAE, 28 in Jordan, 19 in Qatar, eight in Oman, six in Iran, four in Kuwait, two in Lebanon, and one each in Yemen and Bahrain.

     "We will maintain close communication with the WHO and relevant health authorities," the spokesman said.

     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 pages 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/Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:30
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