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Bahrain on high alert for new virus

Manama, May 27, 2013

Health officials in Bahrain are on red alert on a daily basis for signs of the potentially deadly coronavirus, three suspected cases of which have been reported.

All cases to date have tested negative for the virus, which has killed 17 people in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and infected 44 people globally, according to the report in the Gulf daily News, our sister publication.

The virus has been named the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"We have been dealing with two or three suspected cases daily in the past few days," said Public Health Directorate public health consultant Dr Adel Al Sayed. “The samples collected from all the suspected cases were negative when tested at the laboratory."

A hotline has been set up by the Public Health Directorate's disease control section to answer questions from concerned members of the public.

Meanwhile, guidelines have been drawn up for healthcare workers responding to the bug.

"Doctors, pharmacists, emergency department staff and other point of entry staff will be the first to be contacted by affected members of the public if such diseases appear in Bahrain," Health Minister Sadiq Al Shehabi states in the guidelines.

He added that the guidelines would help prepare for other respiratory diseases such as H7N9 influenza (bird flu) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).

"Your vigilance in recognising and managing these respiratory diseases is essential in the prevention of a major outbreak in Bahrain," the minister states in the new guidelines for healthcare staff.

The guidelines for medical staff, which includes private hospitals, encourage them to report all suspected cases to the ministry hotline followed by a written report within 24 hours.

A special novel coronavirus investigation form is already being used at Salmaniya Medical Complex to help doctors identify suspected cases at an early stage.

The guidelines also specify measures for dealing with the relatives of a patient who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Health officials have to inform the WHO of any confirmed case and symptoms include fever, cough and breathing difficulties. However, there is no specific treatment or vaccination for the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, members of a Health Ministry task force set up in response to the virus will meet for the first time today.

Director of the Health Promotion Directorate, Dr Amal Al Jodwer, said she would highlight the importance of creating awareness about the virus.

The meeting will be chaired by Health and Primary Care assistant under-secretary Dr Mariam Al Jalahma and include representatives of several ministry departments and private hospitals. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | WHO | MERS-CoV |

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