MOH issues enhanced precautionary measures against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus​ ​(MERS-CoV).

As the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore continues to closely monitor the latest global developments on MERS-CoV infections, Singaporeans travelling to affected areas are advised to maintain vigilance. No cases of MERS-CoV have been detected in Singapore so far. Nonetheless, given today's globalised travel pattens, the possibility of an imported case cannot be ruled out.

Since August 2015, the MOH has stepped up precautionary measures by distributing health advisory notices to travellers arriving from affected areas in the Middle East. Health advisories are also in place at border checkpoints for incoming travellers arriving from affected areas, as well as for outgoing travellers visiting affected areas.

There is currently no advisory against travel to countries in the Arabian Peninsula, or to countries that have reported having imported cases of MERS-CoV.

In the event a suspected or confirmed case arises, the patient will be isolated and managed under strict airborne infection control precautions. Contact tracing will also be conducted when appropriate, and all close contacts will be placed under quarantine.

What is MERS-CoV?

The coronavirus, referred to as novel coronavirus or the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), causes a respiratory illness that can be fatal. The MERS coronavirus is distantly related to the severe acute respiratory s​yndrome (SARS) virus that caused a global pandemic more than 10 years ago. SARS affected 238 people and claimed 33 lives in Singapore in 2003.

Health officials in Singapore are warning individuals travelling to the Middle East to be vigilant and seek treatment immediately if they experience any lower respiratory tract infection symptoms in the 14 days following their return.

Common symptoms of MERS include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Some MERS-CoV patients have also been found to experience atypical symptoms such as diarrhoea.

“If you have visited the Middle East region, particularly Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Oman or Kuwait, and develop fever and respiratory symptoms within 14 days after your return, you should see a doctor immediately,” says Dr Jenny Low​, Senior Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

The MOH (Ministry of Health) in Singapore has also warned pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia to get vaccinated against influenza and to wear a face mask during their visit. A meningitis jab is compulsory for all Singaporean pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a total of 1,800​ laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV and ​​640 deaths since September 2012​​​.​​

The disease has been found to spread between people who are in close contact for a long period of time, including patients and the healthcare workers looking after them. There is a concern that MERS-CoV​ may spread to different countries through travel. The exact source of the disease outbreak is still unknown.

Click on page 2 for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention tips for MERS-CoV.​

Ref: Q15