Muscat: There is no travel ban on travelling to Saudi Arabia on the grounds of the increasing number of MERS cases in the country, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Monday.
"The WHO does not recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions, including for upcoming pilgrimage travel to Saudi Arabia," a statement issued by the organisation said. It asked the GCC states to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.
The statement came at the conclusion of a five-day mission of WHO experts to Saudi Arabia to assist the national health authorities to assess the recent increase in the number of people infected by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Jeddah.
As of May 3, 489 cases, including 126 deaths, were reported to WHO globally, and 406 cases, including 101 deaths, were from Saudi Arabia.
In Oman, the Health Ministry is taking all necessary precautions to deal with the MERS-CoV situation in the Sultanate, according to a senior official of WHO Oman.
Dr Abdallah Assaedi, WHO Representative, Oman, had earlier said that, together with the Ministry of Health, it was monitoring the situation very carefully. "There are no fresh cases of MERS-CoV in the Sultanate," he said.
He also sought to allay public concerns about the spread of the MERS-CoV in the Sultanate. "Oman has reported only two cases till now. One Omani who had been living in the UAE was diagnosed with the disease there. The fourth case was that of a UAE national but had a history of being in Oman," he asserted.
Based on the current situation, the WHO has asked all the countries to continue their surveillance against MERS. "However, we do not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor do we currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions, including for upcoming pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia," it said.
In Saudi Arabia, the WHO team looked into the epidemiological disease prevention, organisational and communication aspects of this recent outbreak to understand the risk to public health and to the transmission chain and to propose next steps and actions.
After meeting with health officials in the capital, WHO experts visited two main hospitals in Jeddah to analyse transmission patterns and review infection.