DOHA: Despite a rise in the number of deaths in Qatar due to MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) says the situation is not worrying at the moment.
Five Qataris tested positive so far, of whom three died, including a youth, 29, and a woman, 56. The other two were discharged from hospital after treatment. The SCH has not reported any new confirmed cases. So far more than 1,000 samples of suspected cases have been tested at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) laboratory, the SCH said in a written reply to The Peninsula yesterday.
“At the moment there is no need for any apprehension. The SCH, HMC and PHCC (Primary Healthcare Corporation) have strengthened the existing surveillance system for communicable disease control and taken measures to increase awareness about prevention of infection and control measures,” said the SCH.
“Availability of adequate diagnostic and screening tests for MERS-CoV have been ensured at the lab. We are monitoring the regional and international situation. Infection prevention and control measures are being strengthened in all clinics and hospitals (government and private),” it added.
All those infected in Qatar were citizens but the SCH said “the exact reason for this is not clear”. There is no decision on any compulsory screening at the ports of entry for those returning from other countries, especially Saudi Arabia, as World Health Organisation has not recommended such tests until now, said the SCH. The Peninsula
Asked if people needed to take any new precautions in view of an increase in the number of cases in Qatar, the SCH said: “There are no new recommendations by WHO and we continue to emphasise the existing recommendations for infection prevention.”
People going to Saudi Arabia for Haj and Umrah have been advised to consult a healthcare provider before travelling to review the risk and assess whether the pilgrimage is advisable.
People with chronic diseases such as diabetes, chronic lung diseases and immunodeficiency can increase the likelihood of illness, including MERS-CoV infection, during travel.
Returning pilgrims have been advised to seek medical attention and immediately notify their local health authority if they develop a significant, acute respiratory illness with fever and cough (severe enough to interfere with usual daily activities) during two weeks after their return.
WHO recommendations include: Washing hands, often with soap and water; avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth because germs are spread this way; and avoiding close contact with sick people.
If you are sick, cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw it in the trash.
Avoid contact with other people and contact your family physician to check if you need to be tested for MERS-CoV.