UAE sees two new cases of Mers coronavirus infection

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Two new cases of infection by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV) in the UAE have been reported to international authorities over the past week, with one of the patients succumbing to the disease.

The victim was a 40-year-old man from Oman, who died on Monday (March 24) at an Abu Dhabi hospital, according to reports submitted by UAE authorities to the World Health Organisation (WHO). He had had underlying medical conditions, and was first admitted to a hospital in Muscat. On March 17, he was admitted to an Abu Dhabi facility. The patient has not recently travelled outside Oman and the UAE, and had no recorded contacts with animals or other Mers-CoV patients.

The second patient is a 49-year-old man from Abu Dhabi whose condition is currently critical. The patient had been admitted to hospital in late February, and was discharged after a few days because his condition had improved. On March 16, he was readmitted, and laboratory tests confirmed Mers-CoV infection.

Although the patient has not travelled recently, he is said to have been in contact with a 68-year-old farm owner from Abu Dhabi who was diagnosed with Mers earlier and is now stable.

No cause for panic

The two diagnoses bring the total count of Mers-CoV infected patients since September 2012 to 200, including 85 deaths worldwide. There is still no cure for the disease that has affected the greatest number of people in Saudi Arabia, and its source is not known, although bats and camels have been mentioned in previous studies.

But medical experts said there is no cause for panic.

“It is true that the disease itself is highly fatal, with a mortality rate of between 40 and 50 per cent. But its transmission is still limited, and we have only seen a handful of cases here in the UAE,” said Dr Asim Malek, chief of infectious diseases and chairman of infection control at the Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Malek said that UAE health authorities practise a very high level of vigilance, which is why the disease can be detected and patients can be isolated and provided treatment.

He urged that people adopt proper hygiene guidelines, especially when in contact with animals. The WHO also recommends that people adopt regular hand washing and other general hygiene measures when visiting farms, and that individuals at high risk of severe disease due to the Mers-CoV avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms where the virus is known to be potentially circulating.

By Samihah Zaman Staff Reporter

Gulf News 2014. All rights reserved.


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