Mers: Call for unified guidelines Filed on July 31, 2013

Unified local and national guidelines are needed for healthcare workers for a better dealing of any suspected Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV) cases in the UAE, according to an infection control expert.

Till date, the UAE has reported six cases of the virus of which four are healthcare workers who were handling an infected 82-year-old patient in Abu Dhabi.

The patient and workers – two nurses and two doctors - are said to be in a stable condition. “The infection was due to the negligence of the healthcare workers who did not take the necessary precautions…people are lax and that is why we need guidelines,” said Dr Ashraf Mahmoud El Houfi, Chairman of the Infection Control Committee UAE.

“We are living in a dangerous environment be it Mers-CoV, Sars or any other virus, we need to take the necessary precautions,” he added.

Dr El Houfi said that all healthcare workers needed to stick to the infection control protocol for suspected cases including wearing surgical masks, keeping a 3-foot distance among others.

“However, we need to re-educate them again on how to deal with suspected cases.” Plans are to send letters of orientation to healthcare workers on how to handle suspected cases.

He also added that despite the rate of fatalities of the infected cases, the virus could not be termed ‘deadly.’ “The patients who died had co-morbidities,” he said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times earlier this month, a top official from the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that remaining informed was the key prevention against the disease especially if the virus was new.

The WHO has said that the risk to Haj pilgrims is low. Until now, 39 deaths have occurred due to the virus mostly in Saudi Arabia.

The identified symptoms of Mers include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea and vomiting.


Asma Ali Zain

Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.

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