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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

MERS-CoV Infection in Saudi Arabia (Update)

12 Jun 2017

The Saudi Ministry of Health reported 6 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), including 1 death, on the weekend of 10 and 11 June 2017. All of the cases were healthcare workers in Riyadh, where there has been an increase in healthcare-related cases in recent weeks.

Since 2012, there have been 1634  cases of MERS-CoV, including 672 deaths in Saudi Arabia.

Advice for Travellers

The risk associated with MERS-CoV 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 hand-washing, 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.
  • Avoiding close contact with live farm or wild animals.
  • Avoiding contact with camels, consumption of raw camel milk or camel products, eating undercooked camel meat.
  • 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.
  • 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.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.

Note: Some countries have however, introduced special screening at points of entry.