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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV Infection in Saudi Arabia (Update)

20 Oct 2016

As of 20 October 2016 the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia has reportedLinka total of 1430 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and 33 symptomless cases of MERS-CoV since 2012. Of these a total of 612 have died.

The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia regularly reports cases of MERS-CoV, this latest case was reported on 20 October 2016.

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.