WHO advises repeat tests for MERS-CoV


The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised health facilities of member-states to test persons suspected of contracting the Middle East respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV ) at least twice to prevent its possible spread.

The WHO also called for continued inspections for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to review unusual patterns to help fight prevalent diseases.

The organization said infection prevention and control measures were critical in preventing the spread of MERS-CoV in health care facilities.

“Such facilities serving patients suspected or confirmed to be infected with MERS-CoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus from an infected patient to other patients, health-care workers and visitors. Health-care workers should be educated, trained and refreshed with skills in infection prevention and control,” it said.

The WHO noted that it is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because some have mild or unusual symptoms. For this reason, it is important that health-care workers apply standard precautions consistently with all patients—regardless of their diagnosis—in all work practices all the time.

Droplet precautions, the organization said, should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to all patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection. “Contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for probable or confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection. Airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol generating procedures.”

The WHO added that patients should be managed as potentially infected when the clinical and epidemiological clues strongly suggest MERS-CoV. “Repeat testing should be done when the initial testing is negative, preferably on specimens from the lower respiratory tract,” it said.

The WHO advised health-care providers to remain vigilant and make sure recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV.


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