GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS) from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is advising persons planning to travel to the Middle East to take a number of health precautions and to be alert.
The advice is given in keeping with International Health Regulations (IHR) in connection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which is a serious respiratory illness of unknown cause affecting people, in that region.
The National IHR Focal Point for the Netherlands notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about two laboratory confirmed cases there of the MERS-CoV infection. Cases have also been detected in the United States of America.
Travelers to this area who have a pre-existing major medical condition such as chronic diseases (diabetes or chronic bronchitis, immunodeficiency) should be aware that these conditions can increase the likelihood of medical problems, including MERS-CoV infection, during travel.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases, however the NCoV itself has not yet been found in an animal.
Travellers can take the following steps as a precautionary measure: • wash hands often with soap and water. When hands are not visibly dirty, a hand rub can be used;
• adhere to good food safety practices, such as avoiding undercooked meat or food prepared under unsanitary conditions, and properly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them;
• maintain good personal hygiene;
• and avoid unnecessary contact with farm, domestic, and wild animals.
Travelers who return with symptoms from areas affected by the virus should call their family physician immediately. This is in connection with the Minister of Public Health’s ‘Get Checked’ campaign in order to protect public health.
Globally, 614 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection have been officially reported to WHO, including 181 deaths.