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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV Infection in Republic of Korea (Update)

28 Jul 2015

The World Health Organisation has issued a News Statement announcing that intensified public health measures have brought the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Republic of Korea under control. There have been no new cases reported since 4 July 2015, and all contacts have been released following 14 days of isolation and monitoring.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in May 2015, 186 confirmed cases have been reported (including one confirmed case in China), with 36 related deaths. Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1374 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 490 related 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.

• 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.

Further information on MERS CoV