New Guidelines for MERS Virus Prevention in UAE

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As Saudi Arabia keeps reporting new cases of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi just issued new guidelines for prevention. The recommended measures include consuming well-cooked meat, regularly washing the hands and wearing masks at Hajj or Umrah.

The capital’s health authority launched a MERS coronavirus awareness campaign to help people protect themselves from infection and identify the illness if certain symptoms occur. It published tips and guidelines on its official website, urging people to stick to basic hygiene to minimize the risk of possible infection. The recommended preventative measures include heating unpasteurized milk to 70 degrees Celsius and cooking meats well before consuming. Meat, according to the authority, should also be stored and prepared separately from other foods. And after cooking food or handling raw meat, people should wash hands with soap and warm water, as well.

It is also recommended to wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing, sneezing and using washrooms. The same is advised before and after eating or preparing food, but if soap and water are not available, you should use alcohol-based or antiseptic tissues or sanitizer. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it in the garbage immediately. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. The authority also advises people who intend to travel for the Hajj or Umrah to wear masks, as these pilgrimages are characterized with massive gatherings of people and as we know, most of the MERS infections have occurred in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The guidelines also remind that currently, no vaccine or specialized treatment for the illness is available and the outcome strongly depends on the patient’s clinical condition. There have been identified a number of asymptomatic cases in which the individuals manage to get rid of the virus within two weeks. However, the virus can be deadly, especially if the patient falls into these categories – the elderly (above 65 years of age), having chronic disease and immune deficiencies, pregnant women and children below the age of 12. These people are advised by the Saudi Ministry of Health to postpone their pilgrimage to the Holy cities this year.

Infection with MERS Co-V can be confirmed only after proper laboratory testing in a hospital, but the HAAD also reveals which symptoms can be associated with it – fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. If you suffer from these, doctors recommend drinking more liquids and taking rest. If the symptoms progress, you should see a doctor. And people, who had direct contact with a MERS diagnosed patient, should be tested for infection immediately. Although the information concerning the virus is still limited due to the small number of cases and little research, the method of transmission is most likely the same as with other types of corona viruses. These include close contact with a MERS patient, touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth and nose, or breathing in a room where someone sick coughs or sneezes.

According to a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Health, the number of infections in the country has reached 323, including 102 deaths. Other cases have been identified in UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Malaysia, France, Britain, Greece, Germany and others.

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