Health Ministry monitors MERS-CoV outbreak

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has issued an alert to the people of Fiji that an outbreak of the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) in the Middle East which was highlighted by WHO could reach Fiji, although the risk is very low.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), previously known as novel coronavirus (nCoV), is a viral respiratory illness, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia, in 2012 and has spread to other countries in the neighboring Arabian peninsula.

The virus has now reached Europe, Africa, and Asia with Korea and China the latest.

The symptoms of MERS-CoV are severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough, body aches, sore throat, shortness of breath, chills, chest pain and malaise – a general feeling of being unwell.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MoHMS) has put in place necessary strategies to address the MERS-CoV threat should it reach Fiji.

The Multi Agency Technical Advisory Group was mobilized to facilitate preparations for border control, clinical management, laboratory testing and Surveillance, in anticipation of any suspected case.

The Ministry is spearheading the preparedness response plan particularly as it recognizes the international spread of MERS-CoV

The Health further advises people to take the following precautionary measures to avoid the spread of the virus.

  • Frequent hand-washing is advised with soap and water
  • Avoid undercooked meat or food prepared under unhygienic conditions
  • Ensure fruit and vegetables are properly washed before consumption
  • If a traveller develops acute respiratory illness with fever, they should minimize close contact with others, wear a medical mask, sneeze into a sleeve, flexed elbow or tissue (making sure it is disposed of properly after use)

Meanwhile the Ministry remains vigilant in its approach to contain MERS-CoV as the surveillance has been upscaled.