UAE Authorities Assert MERS Not A Public Health Concern

One person died from MERS and five others have been infected with the disease in the Emirates, it was reported last week.



People in the UAE need not be worried about the MERS Coronavirus (MERS) and can continue with their daily activities normally, health authorities in the country have said.

The remarks follow the death of one foreign worker infected with the MERS virus in Al Ain last week. Five other first aid service personnel – all from the Philippines, have also been infected, it was reported on Friday.

However, in comments published by official news agency WAM, the Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) reassured citizens and residents in the UAE that there is no public health concern at the moment.

HAAD said it is coordinating with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other authorities in the country, and that it has taken all the necessary measures as per international standards and recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), including screenings for all contacts of affected individuals.

“HAAD calls all residents to avoid rumours and refer to official reliable sources for information on the illness,” the WAM report added.

The UAE’s health ministry also cited WHO as confirming that the current situation does not require a travel ban to any country in the world, screenings at different ports, or any restrictions on trade.

The ministry affirmed that it is monitoring the situation closely, adding that globally, detected cases of MERS continue to be very low compared to other types of flu-like illness.

The MERS virus emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and so far, cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Oman, Tunisia and parts of Europe.

In its MERS update on April 11, WHO confirmed a total of 212 cases of infection, including 88 deaths.

The report added: “People at high risk of severe disease due to MERS-CoV should avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating.

“For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, should be adhered to.”