The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has announced an additional laboratory-confirmed case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in the country. The patient is a 66-year-old man from the Asir region with an underlying health condition. He is currently in critical but stable condition. In addition, a Qatari patient earlier confirmed with MERS-CoV infection, who was being treated in the United Kingdom died on 28 June 2013.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 81 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 45 deaths.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all 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, health care workers and visitors.
WHO has convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) in order to be prepared for a change in the situation. The Emergency Committee, which comprises international experts from all WHO Regions, will provide expert technical advice to the WHO Director-General in accordance to the IHR (2005). The first meeting of the Committee took place July 9, 2013 and an additional meeting is scheduled for next week.