The Health Authority in Abu Dhabi announced yesterday evening an Emirati man was diagnosed with MERS coronavirus and is now hospitalized in Abu Dhabi. Although the name MERS stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus, this is the first case of the virus infection within the UAE since its appearance in 2012.
According to the Health Authority in Abu Dhabi (HAAD) the patient is an 82-year-old UAE national who has a multiple myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells, which has various symptoms, including pneumonia. The man is currently under medical supervision in the ICU hospital in Abu Dhabi. Most of the cases of MERS infection so far have been in older men with underlying medical conditions. Still, there is no information whether the man had traveled to Saudi Arabia, or whether he had contact with an infected individual. HAAD said it is coordinating with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and all measures have been taken, so that the infection won’t spread among the patient’s family or in the hospital environment.
MoH cited an announcement by the World Health Organization saying that currently, the virus is not a public health concern, so there is no need of any travel or trade restrictions. Although Saudi Arabia increased screenings, the authorities in the UAE said there will be no screenings at ports and points of entries. The 82-year-old man in Abu Dhabi has become the 81st case of MERS globally – a virus which is so contagious as the common flu for instance, so the Ministry confirmed that there is no threat at the moment. It also said it is monitoring the situation “to ensure the public health and safety”. However, there were several outbreaks of MERS infection hospitals in Saudi Arabia and the other concerning fact is that the virus is highly deadly – out of the 81 diagnosed patients so far, 44 has already died.