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New Resource Relating to MERS-CoV and Travel

09 Jun 2014

Since April 2014, there has been a marked increase in reported infections with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Whilst the public health impact has increased, there is still no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, therfore, WHO consider the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) not appropriate at this time.

As of 28th May, WHO have recorded 636 confirmed MERS-CoV cases, primarily from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates. Cases associated with travel to the Middle East have been identified in several European countries (France, Germany, Italy, UK, Greece, and The Netherlands) and other parts of the world (Malaysia, Philippines, Tunisia and USA).

Both sporadic and/or travel associated case cases have occurred in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran and Oman.

Recently, two confirmed cases of MERS-CoV passed through London Heathrow Airport on flights from the Middle East, with onward travel to the US. In both instances, follow-up of passengers sitting in the immediate vicinity of the case was undertaken, and no onward transmission was identified.

It is possibile that there will be further imported cases of MERS-CoV in people returning from the Middle East. To raise awareness among travellers and provide information on preventive measures, posters and leaflets have been developed for use in airports and airlines operating flights to the Middle East.

Travellers to the Middle East who develop symptoms either during travel or after their return are encouraged to seek medical attention and to share their history of travel.