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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness in humans and animals. In humans, this large family of viruses are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The common symptoms reported among confirmed cases are acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. Based on current clinical experience, the infection generally presents as pneumonia. It has caused kidney failure and death in some cases. It is important to note that the current understanding of the illness caused by this infection is based on a limited number of cases and may change as more information becomes available.

The transmission of the disease from person to person is not known with certainty at this time. The cases occurring in the same family raises the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission. Alternatively, it is possible that the infected family members were exposed to the same source of infection, for example, in a household or workplace.

To date, the way how humans become infected with this virus is not known. Investigations are underway to determine the virus source, types of exposure that lead to infection, mode of transmission and the clinical pattern and course of disease.

There is no specific treatment for disease caused by novel coronavirus and There is no vaccine currently available. However, many of the symptoms caused by this virus can be treated and therefore treatment should be based on the symptoms of the patient. Moreover, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

Although the way of how people become infected with this virus is not known at this time, some general measures that would be practical and help prevent the acquisition of any respiratory illness which include avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone who shows symptoms of illness (coughing and sneezing), and to maintain good hand hygiene.

Epidemiological situation of the disease to date:

Locally: Currently ,there are no confirmed cases of MERS –CoV in Bahrain despite testing of more than 753 samples of suspected cases from governmental and private hospitals .
46 samples were tested from the contacts of camels and turned to be negative
Total samples tested 799

Regional: there are reported laboratory -confirmed MERS –CoV cases in some countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Worldwide: from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 872 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 313 deaths.

Countries With Lab-Confirmed MERS Cases:
  • France
  • Jordan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • Italy
  • United Kingdom
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Oman
  • Kuwait
  • Malaysia
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • Philippines
  • Egypt
  • United States of America
  • Yemen
  • Lebanon
  • Netherlands
  • Iran
  • Algeria

WHO Recommendations:
  • WHO recommends that health care providers are advised to be vigilant among recent travelers returning from areas affected by the virus who develop severe SARI. Specimens from patients’ lower respiratory tracts should be obtained for diagnosis where possible. Clinicians are reminded that nCoV infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms in patients who are significantly immune compromised.
  • WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.
  • WHO recommends that health care workers consistently apply appropriate infection prevention and control measures.
Actions taken in the Kingdom of Bahrain in regards of novel corona virus infection:
  1. Emphasis on health working groups to comply with the of infection control standards issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in this regard.
  2. Alert all health workers in all health facilities in Bahrain about the epidemiological situation of the disease locally, regionally and globally.
  3. Issuing a circular for health care workers in government and private hospitals to guide them on management of the suspected cases from public health point of view.
  4. Strengthening the surveillance system for severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) by direct communication with concerned physicians and holding awareness sessions.
  5. Communication with the public through various means to inform them of the situation transparently.
  6. Communicate with health officials in Saudi Arabia, as well as with the World Health Organization (WHO) for the latest updates.