Emergencies preparedness, response

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Oman

Disease outbreak news
16 January 2015

Between 7 and 10 January 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of Oman notified WHO of 2 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 1 death.

Details of the case are as follows:

  • A 32-year-old male from Dakhelyia Region who developed symptoms on 27 December and was admitted to hospital on 5 January. The patient had comorbidities. He owned a farm and had frequent contact with camels, goats and sheep. The patient had no history of exposure to other known risk factors in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. He was admitted to ICU but passed away on 7 January.
  • A 31-year-old female from Dakhelyia Region who developed symptoms on 8 January and was admitted to hospital on 9 January. The patient has no comorbidities. She is a household contact of the MERS-CoV case reported above. The household owns camels but she had no direct contact with them. The patient is in stable condition and remains in isolation.

Contact tracing of household contacts and healthcare contacts is ongoing for these cases.

Globally, WHO has been notified of 950 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 350 related deaths.

WHO advice

Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.

Infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent the possible spread of MERS-CoV in health care facilities. It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because like other respiratory infections, the early symptoms of MERS-CoV are non-specific. Therefore, health-care workers should always apply standard precautions consistently with all patients, regardless of their diagnosis. Droplet precautions should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection; contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for probable or confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection; airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol generating procedures.

Until more is understood about MERS-CoV, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS‐CoV infection. Therefore, these people should avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals and avoiding contact with sick animals, should be adhered to.

Food hygiene practices should be observed. People should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.