Global Alert and Response (GAR)

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

The Ministry of Health (MoH) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has notified WHO of a laboratory-confirmed case of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the country.

The patient is an 82-year-old man with underlying medical conditions and is currently in critical condition.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 82 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 45 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 travelers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.

Specimens from patients’ lower respiratory tracts should be obtained for diagnosis where possible. Clinicians are reminded that MERS-CoV infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, such as diarrhea, in patients who are immunocompromised.

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) on a precautionary basis in order to be prepared for a change in the situation. The Emergency Committee, which comprises international experts from all WHO Regions, will provide expert technical advice to the WHO Director-General in accordance to the IHR (2005). The first meeting of the Committee took place on 9 July 2013 and a further meeting is scheduled for next week.

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