Middle East MERS-CoV respiratory syndrome coronavirus remains serious and an issue of great concern

Section General Health Care (SGHC) that falls under Collective Prevention Services (CPS) from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has convened two International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee Meetings in connection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).


The committee reviewed and deliberated on information on a range of aspects of MERS-CoV, which was prepared or coordinated by the Secretariat and States in response to questions presented by Members during the first meeting.

It is the unanimous decision of the Committee with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, have not at present been met, however the situation is serious and of great concern.

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 e.g. with fever, cough, shortness of breath, or breathing difficulties, or other symptoms suggesting an infection, and with a recent history of travel in the Middle East and 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.

Although the source of the virus and the mechanism of transmission is unknown, it necessary to try and reduce the general risk of infection while travelling.

As you prepare to travel we remind you to avoid 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 and avoid close contact with live farm or wild animals.

Protect you and your family during your vacation and return healthy and safely to St. Maarten only together can we maintain a healthy St. Maarten.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, the WHO has been informed of a total of 94 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 46 deaths.

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.

Consult your physician for additional information or call SGHC at 5422078/23003 or email su**********@si************.org