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Patients test negative for Mers after accident and emergency department closed

Published 28/07/2015

Manchester Royal Infirmary closed its accident and emergency department after two patients were thought to have Mers
Manchester Royal Infirmary closed its accident and emergency department after two patients were thought to have Mers

Two patients who sparked the closure of an accident and emergency department after it was thought they could have Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus Syndrome (Mers) have tested negative for the disease.

Manchester Royal Infirmary's A&E unit closed for around two hours yesterday afternoon in response to fears of an outbreak of the potentially deadly Sars-like virus.

But a spokesman for Public Health England (PHE) said today that tests have found they do not have the condition.

PHE's North West deputy director of health protection, Dr Rosemary McCann, said: "PHE can confirm that two individuals were tested for Mers-CoV in Manchester.

"These cases were separate and unrelated. The results of both tests were negative."

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the pair were isolated while tests took place and one of them was relocated to North Manchester General Hospital.

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

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

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.

PHE said there have been 316 tests for Mers since 2013, but all have come back 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 McCann said the risk in the UK ''remains very low''.

''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,'' she said.

''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 c are 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.

''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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