The World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of an additional 18 new laboratory-confirmed cases including three deaths with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.
The patients are reported from Hafar Al-Batin, Medina and Riyadh. Their ages ranging from 3 to 75 years old. These cases were announced by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia Sept. 1-11, 2013. Additionally, in Qatar, a previously laboratory-confirmed patient with MERS-CoV died on Sept. 6, 2013.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 132 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 58 deaths.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all of its member states to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns.
Healthcare providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travelers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.
Specimens from patients’ lower respiratory tracts should be obtained for diagnosis where possible. Clinicians are reminded that MERS-CoV infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms, such as diarrhea, in patients who are immunocompromised.
Healthcare facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC). Healthcare facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed with MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients, healthcare workers and visitors.
WHO has convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) to advise the Director-General on the status of the current situation. The Emergency Committee, which comprises international experts from all WHO Regions, unanimously advised that, with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met.