1. MERS: First detected in 2012, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a deadly respiratory illness and is caused by a coronavirus and hence called MERS-CoV too. It has 60% death rate.
2. Coronavirus: Are common worldwide. They usually cause colds. But MERS-CoV has caused severe illness and death in people from several countries.
3. Any link to SARS? MERS resembles SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which had erupted in 2003. Examination of the viruses are still under way.
4. Any reasons to panic? No, because it’s not found to be contagious. No cases among pilgrims, or in schools detected. Just be careful.
5. Source: Not much is known. It may have come from some animals. Many camels in Qatar have been found MERS-positive. Still under study
6. Why in the news? KSA and the UAE have recently found a few confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, with reports of few more deaths
7. KSA status: Nationwide toll 69. The latest figures bring to 194 the number of cases of MERS in Saudi Arabia since the virus first appeared in 2012
8. Global status: Since 2012 to date, there is a total of 228 confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV detected, including 92 deaths
9. KSA’s war on MERS: People are concerned, but the Saudi government works 24/7 to protect people’s health, and has launched all efforts to prevent its spread. Cases are being examined and preventive steps are being taken
10. Without doubt: Health officials will do well to use media in playing a vital role in allaying fears.
10 things to know about symptoms and precautions
1. Severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath.
2. Better avoid contact with patients with acute pneumonia.
3. Health care workers should be educated, trained and refreshed with skills on infection prevention and control.
4. Washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also be used
5. Covering nose and mouth with a tissue while coughing or sneezing and then throwing the tissue in the trash.
6. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
7. Avoid close contact, such as sharing cups or sharing eating utensils with sick people.
8. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
9. There is no vaccine. There are no specific treatments recommended for illnesses caused by MERS-CoV. Medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms.
10. No need to panic. People must remain calm and patient.