Persons traveling to the Middle East cautioned to take preventive measures

In connection with Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

Section General Health Care (SGHC) that falls under Collective Prevention Services (CPS) from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is advising persons traveling to the Middle East to be on alert and to take preventive measures to protect their health in connection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases, however the NCoV itself has not yet been found in an animal.


Travelers who return with symptoms from areas affected by the virus should call their family physician immediately. This is in connection with the Minister of Public Health’s ‘Get Checked’ campaign in order to protect public health.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of a total of 53 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 30 deaths. The Ministry of Health in Italy, through the European Union’s Early Warning Response System has notified WHO of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases, a two-year-old girl and a 42-year-old woman who had recently traveled to Jordan.

Countries that have reported laboratory-confirmed cases to date are: Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and France.

In France, Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among patients who had not been to the Middle East but had been in close contact with the laboratory-confirmed or probable cases.

Common symptoms have been acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. The infection generally presents as pneumonia. It has caused kidney failure and death in some cases.

To prevent catching any respiratory illness, avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone who shows symptoms of illness (coughing and sneezing), and to maintain good hand hygiene.

Health care providers have been called to be vigilant in monitoring for severe acute respiratory infections and the systematic implementation of infection prevention and control.

Health care facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control. The WHO continues to closely monitor the situation.