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Manchester Royal Infirmary A and E reopens amid Mers tests

Published 27/07/2015

Officials have stressed that there is no danger to the public
Officials have stressed that there is no danger to the public

The accident and emergency department at Manchester Royal Infirmary which was forced to close because of two suspected cases of Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus Syndrome (Mers) has reopened.

The two patients continue to be monitored while they await their test results for the potentially deadly Sars-like virus, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said.

Public Health England said the risk to the public "remains very low" following the outbreak of the virus in the Middle East in 2012.

A spokesperson said: "This afternoon, we confirmed that we are currently investigating two patients for suspected Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus Syndrome - Coronavirus Infection (Mers-CoV).

"Both patients were isolated for on-going management of their condition while tests took place. One patient has now been relocated to North Manchester General. Results of the tests are still pending.

"Manchester Royal Infirmary A&E is now open to the public.

"We would like to reassure our patients and the general public that there is no significant risk to public health."

Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus (Mers‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

As of last month 1,333 cases had been confirmed throughout the world and approximately 36% of infected patients have died, the World Health Organisation said.

Although the source of Mers-CoV is currently unknown, there is growing evidence of the possible role of camels in transmitting the virus to humans.

Public Health England said on-going surveillance has identified 314 suspect cases in the UK that have been investigated and found to be negative.

The last person to be diagnosed in the UK with the potentially deadly Sars-like virus was in February 2013, despite a recent rise in cases in the Middle East and outbreaks in South Korea and China.

Dr Rosemary McCann, North West deputy director for Public Health England, said: "Although cases continue to be reported from the Middle East, no new cases of Mers-CoV have been detected in the UK since February 2013.

"There is presently no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission of Mers-CoV, and the risk of contracting infection in the UK remains very low.

"The risk to UK residents travelling to Middle Eastern countries may be slightly higher than within the UK, but is still very low.

"Limited onward transmission in South Korea has been associated with health care settings, and the risk to UK tourists visiting South Korea is also considered to be very low."

Dr Derek Gatherer, a lecturer at the University of Lancaster, said: "Outside hospitals the risk to the general public is extremely low and the outbreak ought not to cause concern.

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Mers risk as being confined to those hospital workers not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and working within two metres of a case in a ward or those patients in the same room or ward as a confirmed case, or those who have contacted respiratory secretions from a case.

"Mers is a member of the same family of viruses as Sars, which caused a brief global panic in 2003, but is not a close relative.

"In the Middle East it has mostly been associated with the camel breeding industry with many cases in farm workers, and has also spread within Saudi hospitals with 466 deaths in total.

"There is no treatment for Mers other than a general symptomatic support for pneumonia, perhaps involving steroid drugs to widen airways and assist breathing. There is no vaccine at present."

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