For the first time in five years, health officials in England are reporting a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) case.

 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) /CDC
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) /CDC

The patient, a resident of the Middle East, was initially admitted to a hospital in Leeds and was transferred to Royal Liverpool Hospital.

It is believed the patient have contracted the infection prior to traveling to the UK.

This is the fifth case of MERS diagnosed in England, with previous cases diagnosed in 2012 to 2013.

MERS-CoV (the virus that causes MERS) can be spread when someone is in close contact with a patient for a sustained period of time. This means there is a very low risk to the general population of becoming ill.

As a precautionary measure, PHE experts are working closely with NHS colleagues to advise them on infection control measures. They will be contacting people who might have been in close contact with the individual to monitor their symptoms and provide health advice. This will include contacting a number of passengers who travelled in close proximity to the patient on the same flight to the UK.

People without symptoms are not considered infectious but, as a precaution, those who have been in close proximity will be contacted and monitored to ensure that if they do become unwell they can be treated quickly.

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Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at PHE, said:

A patient in hospital in Liverpool is being treated for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV) infection. The patient is thought to have contracted the infection whilst in the Middle East before travelling to the UK.

Public Health England is following up those who have had close and sustained contact with the patient to offer advice and to monitor them as necessary.

It is important to emphasise that although a case has been identified, the overall risk of disease transmission to the public is very low.

As we’ve seen in previous cases, we have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed to minimise the risk of transmission.