ABU DHABI // An 82-year-old Emirati man in hospital in Abu Dhabi has been diagnosed as having contracted Mers, the novel coronavirus disease that has killed 28 people in Saudi Arabia.
The latest victim was already being treated for multiple myeloma – cancer of the bone marrow – when he was diagnosed, according to the state news agency Wam. Patients with pre-existing conditions are known to be susceptible to the disease.
It is the first case to be confirmed within the UAE. Previous cases were only confirmed after the patients had left for treatment abroad. An Emirati man died in hospital in Germany in March, and a Frenchman who had been visiting Dubai died in May.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation met to decide whether Mers – Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, also known as Mers-CoV – represented a public health emergency of international concern.
Two days ago, the WHO issued a disease outbreak news alert after a new case was detected in Saudi Arabia. The 66-year-old man from the Asir region, located in the south-west of the country, was said to be in critical but stable condition.
The Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad) said it was coordinating with the Ministry of Health and other authorities concerning the new UAE case. It said it had taken the necessary measures in line with international standards and recommendations laid out by the WHO.
So far, the WHO said, there have been a total of 81 laboratory-confirmed cases worldwide of the infection, including 45 deaths. The UAE case brings that number to 82.
Another Qatari patient, who was diagnosed last month and was being treated in the United Kingdom, died on June 28.
The ministry said that the WHO had stressed the virus was not a concern for public health at the moment. It also said that the current situation did not require a travel ban to any country in the world, nor screenings at different ports or restrictions on trade.
However, the WHO said it encouraged all member states to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (Sari) and to carefully review any unusual patterns. Health care providers were also advised to maintain vigilance.
Another WHO meeting is scheduled for next week.