Sector updated on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Media release

15 June 2015

Health authorities in New Zealand are updating the sector on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), due to an ongoing outbreak in South Korea.

“We are well prepared in terms of the detection, testing and management of MERS. To date there have been no cases of MERS detected in New Zealand,” says Dr Stewart Jessamine, the Ministry of Health’s Acting Director of Public Health.

“This strain of MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in late 2012. All known cases of MERS have lived in or travelled to the Middle East, or have been linked to people who acquired the infection in the Middle East.

“The situation in South Korea involves an infected traveller who returned from the Middle East, and then infected others in the hospital. There is no history of community-spread of MERS.

“This case serves as a reminder of the importance of recently returned international travellers mentioning their travel history to their health practitioner if they subsequently become unwell.”

MERS was made a notifiable and quarantinable infectious disease in New Zealand in September 2013.

The Ministry of Health has provided clinical and diagnostic guidance to district health board clinicians and laboratories, and to Medical Officers of Health. This includes case definitions and advice about investigation and management of any suspected cases.

“The Ministry routinely monitors the international situation in regards infectious diseases, including MERS, and updates the health sector and the public if it changes,” says Dr Jessamine.

In line with advice from the World Health Organization, New Zealand does not intend to introduce any travel restrictions in respect to MERS CoV.

Anyone who becomes unwell after traveling overseas should call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or phone their GP or hospital prior to visiting, and make sure to mention where they have been travelling.

Further information is available on the MERS-CoV page on this site, and advice for travellers is available on the SafeTravel website.

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