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MERS-CoV in the Middle East, case identified in the United Kingdom

23 Aug 2018

On 23 August 2018, Public Health EnglandLink reported a case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) in a traveller recently arrived in the United Kingdom from the Middle East. The patient was admitted to hospital in Leeds and is now in a stable condition in the infectious disease unit of the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

MERS-CoV is a serious respiratory infection with a high rate of fatalities. It is most common in Saudi Arabia where there are several cases each week.

Advice for Travellers

The risk associated with MERS-CoV to the general UK population and 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 respiratory 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.

For further advice see Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage.