UAE allays Mers fears

The Ministry of Health has said the deadly Sars-like coronavirus has not become a ‘public health emergency’ at the moment though four new cases have been detected in the UAE and two more in Saudi Arabia.


Olivia Olarte-Ulherr

Published: Sat 20 Jul 2013, 8:20 AM

Last updated: Mon 11 Oct 2021, 7:33 PM

There is no need for imposing any travel restrictions at this time, the ministry said, citing World Health Organisation’s latest updates.

The ministry said it was following all latest updates regarding the new virus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers-CoV) with the WHO. It confirmed that the virus was not a concern for public health at the moment as the detected cases globally continued to be very low.

It reiterated that the current situation did not require a travel ban to any country in the world, nor screenings at different ports, or restrictions on trade. The MoH praised the cooperation and coordination among all health authorities in the country to follow up the situation and safeguard public health.

Four healthcare workers in Abu Dhabi who took care of the first coronavirus patient in the country were identified as those recently infected with the coronavirus.

According to the WHO, the medical personnel were from two hospitals in the emirate that treated the 82-year-old Emirati man.

In two cases, a 28-year-old man and 30-year-old woman, did not develop symptoms of (Mers-CoV), while the other two, women aged 30 and 40, had mild upper respiratory symptoms and are in a stable condition. They are all now in isolation. State news agency Wam reported on Thursday that the four new cases were as a result of the screening of the first patient.

“We screened 136 from the first contact and we found four positive,” Health Authority — Abu Dhabi (Haad) customer service and corporate communications director Dr Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi said.

The individuals screened included medical staff and family members of the patient.

In addition to the four new cases in the UAE, two were also reported in Saudi Arabia, where the illness is thought to have originated and the most victims and fatalities have occurred. The WHO said both victims, from the Asir region, had mild symptoms but were not hospitalised. The first is a 26-year-old man who was in close contact with a previously laboratory-confirmed case and the second case is a 42-year-old female healthcare worker.

This brought the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of Mers infection to 88, including 45 deaths.

The WHO advised healthcare providers to “maintain vigilance” and urged facilities caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Mers to take “appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, healthcare workers and visitors”.

More news from UAE