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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia (Update)

29 Aug 2013

WHO has been informed of an additional eight laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.

The cases include two men with underlying medical conditions from Riyadh who died, three women and one man, also from Riyadh, and two men from Asir region. Additionally, a previously laboratory-confirmed case from the United Arab Emirates has died.

The two cases who died were 54 and 51 years-old from Riyadh, who were suffering from pre-existing chronic illnesses.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 102 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 49 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.

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 handwashing, 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 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.