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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV Infection in China (Imported)

29 May 2015

The Department of Health in Hong Kong has reported a confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). The infection has been imported from South Korea by a 44-year-old man who was being monitored as a contact of one of the recently diagnosed cases of MERS-CoV in South Korea.

The man travelled from South Korea to Huizhou, Guangdong via Hong Kong on 26 May 2015. He arrived at Hong Kong International Airport; flight OZ723, Asiana Airlines and then travelled by Eternal East Bus the same day to Huizhou. He was hospitalised in Guangdong in a stable condition and tracing of all possible contacts was initiated.

(Via DoH Hong Kong and Reuters - accessed 29/05/15)

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 other 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.