Man Tests Positive For MERS-CoV In Abu Dhabi, First Case In UAE In Nearly 2 Years: WHO


A man in Abu Dhabi has tested positive for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), said World Health Organization in an official statement. The UN body said that on July 10 this year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), notified WHO of a case of MERS-CoV in a 28-year-old male from Al Ain city in Abu Dhabi. The statement said that the case had no history of direct or indirect contact with dromedaries, goats, or sheep. WHO stated that the ma was admitted to the hospital on June 8 and a nasopharyngeal swab was collected on 21 June. The patient tested positive for MERS-CoV by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on June 23.  

“All 108 identified contacts were monitored for 14 days from the last date of exposure to the MERS-CoV patient. No secondary cases have been detected to date,” WHO said. 

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory infection that is caused by a coronavirus called Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). According to WHO, humans are infected with MERS-CoV from direct or indirect contact with dromedary camels who are the natural host and zoonotic source of the MERS-CoV infection. 

This is the first MERS-CoV case in UAE in nearly two years. As per WHO, the last MERS-CoV infection case was reported from the UAE in November 2021. “The first laboratory-confirmed case of MERS-CoV in UAE was in July 2013. Since then, the UAE has reported 94 cases of MERS-CoV (including this current case) and 12 associated deaths,” the UN health body said. 

Giving detail about the case, WHO said that the man is a non- Emirati national living in Al Ain city and a non-healthcare worker. He visited a private medical center multiple times between 3 and 7 June 2023, complaining of vomiting, right flank pain, and dysuria (pain when passing urine).

“On 8 June, the case presented to a government hospital with vomiting, and gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, and was given an initial diagnosis of acute pancreatitis, acute kidney injury, and sepsis,” the statement read.

Then, on 13 June, he was in critical condition and referred to an intensive care unit (ICU) at a specialised government tertiary hospital where he was put on mechanical ventilation. He deteriorated and a nasopharyngeal swab was collected on 21 June and tested positive for MERS-CoV by PCR on 23 June 2023, WHO said.

The health body added, “The case has no known co-morbidities, no history of contact with MERS-CoV human cases, and no recent travel outside the UAE. The patient has no known history of direct contact with animals including dromedary camels, nor consumption of their raw products.”

Highlighting the concerns after the case was found, WHO said that it re-emphasizes the importance of strong surveillance by all Member States for acute respiratory infections, including MERS-CoV, and to carefully review any unusual patterns.

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