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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia (Update)

10 Jul 2013

On 7 July 2013, the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Saudi Arabia announced one additional laboratory-confirmed case and two deaths in previously confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.

The new case is a 56 year-old female from Hafr Al- Batin city, North-eastern region. She is a healthcare worker who had contact with a confirmed MERS-CoV case who subsequently recovered and was discharged.

In addition, the two deaths in previously confirmed cases are a 53 year-old citizen from the Eastern Region and a two year-old male from Jeddah.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 80 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 44 deaths.

Advice for Travellers

Although the source of the virus and the mechanism of transmission is unknown, it would be prudent to try to reduce the general risk of infection while travelling by:

  • Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  • Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  • Adhering to food safety and hygiene rules such as avoiding undercooked meats, raw fruits and vegetables unless they have been peeled, or unsafe water.
  • Avoiding close contact with live farm or wild animals.
  • Travellers to the Middle East who develop symptoms either during travel or within 14 days after their return are encouraged to seek medical attention and to share their history of travel. People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands) and to delay travel until they are no longer symptomatic.

Based on the information available, WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.

Note: Some countries have however, introduced special screening at points of entry with regard to this event.