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MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia - Update 1

18 Feb 2019

The Ministry of Health of Saudi ArabiaLink reports that there were 24 cases of MERS-Cov in the country in the week ending 16 February 2019. Cases were identified in five cities:

  • 18 cases (3 deaths) in Wadi Aldwasir city, Riyadh region
  • 3 cases (1 death) in Riyadh city, Riyadh region
  • 1 case (died) in Umluj city, Tabuk region
  • 1 case in Buraidah city, Qassim region
  • 1 case in Najran city, Najran region

Advice for Travellers

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.

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