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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV): update

PHE maintains enhanced levels of surveillance and continues to review and update the information and advice on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).


Cases of MERS-CoV (formerly known as novel coronavirus) continue to be reported from the Middle East. However, no new cases of MERS-CoV have been detected in the UK since February 2013. There is currently no change to PHE’s risk assessment.

The total number of laboratory confirmed cases detected by the UK remains at four. There have been three deaths, two reported in February 2013 and one in July 2013.

PHE guidance continues to be reviewed and modified to ensure it remains appropriate and in line with the advice provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Experts at PHE continue to liaise with WHO and ECDC colleagues to ensure we have the best available information so that our advice is accurate and up to date.

The respiratory diseases department and colleagues in the respiratory virus lab at PHE have already prepared a series of advice documents for both the general public and healthcare professionals including risk assessments and advice on how cases should be managed.

Health care professionals are advised to be vigilant for severe unexplained respiratory illness occurring in anyone who has recently travelled in the Middle East, as well as any unexplained cluster of severe respiratory illness or healthcare worker with unexplained severe respiratory illness. Advice is provided on infection control, urgent diagnostic investigation and identification of contacts of suspected cases.

PHE remains vigilant to the developments in the Middle East and in the rest of the world where new cases have emerged and continue to liaise closely with our international colleagues to assess whether our recommendations need to change. Although some person-to-person transmission has been reported, there remains no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission.

Published 30 May 2013
Last updated 4 July 2013 + show all updates
  1. Update to number of deaths to date.
  2. Added link to PHE coronavirus conference 9 July 2013
  3. First published.