Singapore has measures in place in case Mers-CoV virus occurs here, says Ministry of Health

Singapore has rolled out a series of measures against the Mers-CoV infection even as the outbreak in South Korea continues, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday.

Mers-CoV is short for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Most people infected with the virus develop severe respiratory illness, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, and many of them have died.

As of Wednesday, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a government agency, has reported 30 cases of the infection. All of the infections, however, have been limited to household and hospital contacts among the patients, and were linked to the first identified case.

"There is therefore no evidence of sustained community transmission in South Korea," MOH said.

Even so, Singapore's hospitals have been reminded to remain vigilant, and to be ready to screen and isolate any suspect cases. Currently, patients with signs and symptoms of pneumonia, or severe respiratory infection with breathlessness, and who had travelled to the Middle East in the two weeks before showing the symptoms, will be referred by hospitals here for further evaluation to exclude Mers-CoV infection.

"We are extending a similar regime to patients from South Korea. In addition, people with fever and respiratory illness of any severity who had visited a healthcare facility while travelling in the Middle East or South Korea will also be referred," MOH said.

Since May 18, passengers arriving from the Middle East at airports in Singapore have had their temperatures taken. Health advisories also remain in place at border checkpoints for travellers coming from and going to areas affected by the infection. "Screening may be ramped up to include screening for passengers arriving from South Korea if there is evidence of sustained community spread," said MOH.

To reduce risk of exposure to the infection while overseas, MOH urged people to practise frequent hand washing, to avoid contact with camels and other live farm or wild animals, and to wear a surgical mask and seek medical attention quickly if they become unwell with fever and cough if they are travelling in or had recently been in areas with Mers-CoV cases.

This article was first published on June 3, 2015.
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