The Health Ministry says two more people have died from MERS, raising the total number of fatalities in the Kingdom to 44.
The victims were identified as a 41-year-old expat who was working in the health sector in Riyadh and a 79-year-old Saudi who suffered from chronic illnesses and who came into contact with a patient stricken by the virus in the northeastern city of Hafr Al-Baten.
Meanwhile, international airports in India have stepped up surveillance to prevent the entry of MERS.
Following the WHO warning, Kochi International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala, was one of the first airports to implement precautionary measures against the threat of MERS. Jaiboy Jacob, an Indian expat from Kerala who recently returned from a month long home trip, said: “Kochi airport authorities have instructed all airport staff, airlines and their staff and immigration and customs personnel to strictly carry out the instructions issued under recommendation from the WHO.”
Srinivas, a medical professional who returned from Hyderabad, said: “Precautionary measures have been stepped up at airports to prevent the entry of the deadly virus. The Airports Authority of India has issued a notification alerting international airports in the country to increase surveillance to prevent the entry of MERS.”
He said the notification pointed out that it is the duty of every Gulf passenger to make sure that he/she doesn’t transport the virus to their country. “If a passenger develops symptoms within 14 days of his arrival, he or she must contact the nearest hospital and report it for the safety of their life as well as others,” he said.
As per the new guidelines, airline staff should wear triple layer masks, use hand sanitizers and disposable bags, and advise customers to do the same. In case a passenger is found suffering from throat infection, runny nose, fever, cough or respiratory problems, he/she is to be provided with the recommended medication.
Airline staff should also report the case to the airport health officer as soon as they reach their destination. They are also instructed to carry out the immigration formalities quickly. Such patients would be examined by a medical team deployed at the airport and if found positive, they would be transferred to designated hospitals.
“Passengers returning after Haj are required to fill up the Health Check form issued in-flight by airlines,” a private Haj and Umrah tour operator told Arab News.