Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - update

Disease outbreak news

WHO has been informed of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). These include one laboratory-confirmed case from the United Arab Emirates and one laboratory-confirmed case in Qatar.

The patient reported from the United Arab Emirates is a national of Oman. He is 75 years old, with underlying medical conditions. He became ill on 1 October 2013, was hospitalized on 12 October 2013 and died on 10 November 2013.

The patient from Qatar is a 61-year-old man with underlying medical conditions. He became ill on 4 November 2013, and was hospitalised on 7 November 2013. He is in critical condition. Preliminary epidemiological investigation indicates that the patient had exposure to farms where livestock are kept.

Additionally, a previously laboratory-confirmed case from Oman has died.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 155 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 66 deaths.

Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns.

Health care providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.

Patients diagnosed and reported to date have had respiratory disease as their primary illness. Diarrhoea is commonly reported among the patients and severe complications include renal failure and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with shock. It is possible that severely immunocompromised patients can present with atypical signs and symptoms.

Health care facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC). Health care facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed with MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, health care workers and visitors.

All Member States are reminded to promptly assess and notify WHO of any new case of infection with MERS-CoV, along with information about potential exposures that may have resulted in infection and a description of the clinical course. Investigation into the source of exposure should promptly be initiated to identify the mode of exposure, so that further transmission of the virus can be prevented.

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

WHO has convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to advise the Director-General on the status of the current situation. The Emergency Committee, which comprises international experts from all WHO Regions, unanimously advised that, with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met.

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