New MERS Cases in Abu Dhabi

Last month, health authorities in the UAE announced all patients diagnosed with the MERS coronavirus were cleared out of the infection and released from hospitals. Now the Ministry of Health confirms of two new cases in Abu Dhabi.

The World Health Organization says that 15 countries have reported cases of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, with the majority of them located in the Arabian Gulf. Official data from the UN agency states that as of July 4, the total number of infections is 827, while there are at least 287 deaths related to the dangerous disease. However, on Wednesday, July 9, the Ministry of Health in the United Arab Emirates said it discovered two new infections in the capital after an interval of almost two months.

The two patients were admitted to Mafraq Hospital where they are currently under treatment. Their condition is stable and they are expected to be discharged in a few days. According to Dr. Asim Malik, a consultant and the Head of Infectious Disease at the hospital, there is no cause for concern. The virus isn’t as contagious as its “cousin”, the SARS, which infected more than 8,000 people in an outbreak in southern China in 2003. However, the newly identified MERS turns out to be deadlier, killing nearly a third of the patients. As long as people exercise basic hygiene and healthcare workers maintain good infection control and respiratory etiquette, an outbreak is out of the question, experts say.

Infection-control guidelines, recently implemented by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, explain how people can protect themselves from the disease. Basic hygiene including frequently washing the hands with water and soap, using hand sanitizers, avoiding direct contact with wild animals and domesticated camels, as well as sick people should be enough. Of course, people should consume only food which is thoroughly washed and well cooked, especially during Ramadan, when they tend to gather for public iftars in evenings.

The Ministry of Health is also advising pilgrims who are planning their annual hajj to Saudi Arabia to get vaccinated at least two weeks before travel. The elderly, pregnant women and little children, as well as people with chronic diseases should avoid visiting Mecca this year.

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