The World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.
The patients, both men, aged 55 and 78, were from Riyadh region. They became ill at the end of September 2013 and died in the beginning of October 2013. Both the patients were reported to have had no contact to a known laboratory-confirmed case with MERS-CoV.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 138 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 60 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.
Health care 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 diarrhoea, 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, health care 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.