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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV Infection in Bahrain (Ex Saudi Arabia)

11 Apr 2016

On 9 April 2016, the Ministry of Health in Bahrain reported a confirmed case of MERS-CoV infection in a Saudi national who was in hospital in Bahrain undergoing cardiac surgery. A medical team from Saudi Arabia specializing in anti-coronavirus has visited Bahrain to provide expertise and advice on preventing onward transmission in the healthcare facility.

The case has a history of contact with camels and is scheduled to be transferred as soon as he is in a stable condition. The Public Health department has tested 54 samples from contacts of the patient and all are reported as negative for MERS-CoV.

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