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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Novel Coronavirus Infection in Saudi Arabia (Update)

30 May 2013

The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has notified WHO of an additional five laboratory-confirmed cases with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

MERS-CoV was previously named novel coronavirus (VCoV) infection.

All five patients are from the Eastern region of the country, but not from Al-Ahsa, where an outbreak began in a health care facility in April 2013. The patients, 3 males and 2 females had an age range of 56-85 years and all had underlying medical conditions which required multiple hospital visits. The government is conducting investigations into the likely source of infection in both the health care and the community settings.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 49 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 27 deaths.

Advice for Travellers

The risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travellers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low.

No travel restrictions are in place, however, some countries have implemented enhanced health surveillance (including thermal scanning) of incoming travellers, and those from the Arabian Peninsula may be subject to a more thorough screening.

Travellers who develop severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within fourteen days of returning from these countries should seek medical advice and mention which countries they have visited.