WHO has been informed of 9 additional cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the United Arab Emirates, between 16-23 April 2014. Of those cases, 3 are male, 6 female, age range 28-73 years and all from Abu Dhabi. Seven of the new cases had contact with a laboratory confirmed case.
WHO has been informed of a total of 253 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 93 deaths worldwide since cases were first reported in September 2012.
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.
• People at high risk of severe disease due to MERS-CoV should avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals should be adhered to.
• 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.
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.