AusCham Member, International SOS has issued the following Medical Alert dated 4 June 2015: SITUATION UPDATE OF MERS-COV IN SOUTH KOREA.

MERS-CoV cluster in South Korea; imported case in China

A growing cluster of cases in South Korea, and a single case who travelled into China have sparked widespread public health actions. However at this time, there is no indication that the virus is spreading in the general community. All confirmed case so far are linked to direct contact with the “index” case, or with cases who were infected by him. There is no change to the travel advice. International SOS is monitoring the situation closely.

In South Korea – The South Korean Ministry of Health has confirmed over 20 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), two have died. The “index case” is a 68-year-old man, who travelled to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and returned to South Korea on 4 May via Qatar. He developed symptoms a week later and sought medical attention. He was hospitalised and is reported to be in a stable condition. It is unclear whether he had been exposed to animals or had contact with any other MERS-CoV patient. The man’s family members including his wife and son also developed symptoms and later tested positive for the infection. Eventually, several more patients (or their family members) and a few healthcare workers who came in contact with the index case in the hospital got infected. A “second generation” of spread has been documented – people did not have contact with the index case, but were infected by other cases.

News sources have reported that more than 600 people who had direct contact with these patients are quarantined at home, or in designated facilities. They are being monitored for signs of infection.

In China – A 44-year-old man, son of a confirmed MERS-CoV case left for China whilst under quarantine. He flew to Hong Kong on 26 May and is reported to have had a fever and a cough at the time. The traveller then took a bus to mainland China from the airport, intending to go to work in Shenzhen. He is currently hospitalised in isolation in Huizhou, Guangdong where he tested positive for MERS-CoV.

In Hong Kong – Authorities have published details of the contact tracing undertaken there following the man’s flight and subsequent bus journey. A number of contacts who do not have symptoms have been placed in quarantine in a designated village.

Good hygiene measures can help prevent respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Keep some distance from people who are coughing, sneezing or appear sick.

Anyone who develops a fever and respiratory symptoms (such as cough) which are more than mild should seek medical attention and mention their travel history, especially if they have recently been in the Middle East.PIS Members:
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For the latest information and travel advice see:
International SOS Pandemic Preparedness website

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