Dubai: Mers coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is often referred to as the Middle East’s own version of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

It was originally linked to Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the UAE, but laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported in the UK, France, Italy and most recently, the Philippines.


Most people who contract the virus developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.


People with underlying conditions or those chronically ill are advised to avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating.

For those visiting farms or barns, remember to wash your hands before and after touching animals and to avoid contact with sick animals.

Use soap and water while washing your hands, preferably for 20 seconds. Otherwise, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Cover your nose and mouth with a clean tissue when you cough or sneeze but dispose of it properly after use.

Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Refrain from close contact with sick people, such as kissing or sharing crockery.

Always clean and disinfect surfaces such as toys and doorknobs.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 238 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 92 deaths.

In numbers:

Influenza occurs globally with an annual rate estimated at 5 per cent to 10 per cent in adults and 20 per cent to 30 per cent in children. Globally, it results in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), first reported in November 2002 in China, was confirmed in 2,488 people. Of this number, 251 people died.

Of the 650 total cases of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu since 2003, 386 people died.

As of April 16, WHO has been informed of a total of 238 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV worldwide, including 92 deaths, from September 2012.

— Source: World Health Organisation and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention