23/08/2018 17:36 BST

First Case Of Deadly Mers Virus Confirmed In England Since 2013

Passengers who travelled on the same flight as the patient are being contacted.

An individual is “stable” after being diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), in the first confirmed case of the disease in England since 2013.

Public Health England (PHE) said the patient is a resident of the Middle East, where they are believed to have contracted the infection before travelling to the UK.

“While this is a serious infection for the individual, the risk of transmission to the general population from this case is very low,” a spokesman added.

He said the patient was initially admitted to a hospital in Leeds and then transferred to Royal Liverpool Hospital, an expert respiratory infectious disease centre, where they are stable and receiving appropriate treatment.

PHE said Mers-CoV (the virus that causes Mers) can be spread when someone is in close contact with a patient for a sustained period of time, which means there is a very low risk to the general population of becoming ill.

As a precautionary measure, PHE experts are working closely with NHS colleagues to advise them on infection control measures and will be contacting people who might have been in close contact with the individual to monitor their symptoms and provide health advice.

This will include contacting a number of passengers who were sitting near the patient on the same flight to the UK.

They said people without symptoms are not considered infectious but, as a precaution, those who have been in close proximity will be contacted and monitored to ensure that if they do become unwell they can be treated quickly.

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

It is the fifth case of Mers diagnosed in England, with previous cases flagged in 2012 and 2013.

According to the World Health Organisation, 791 Mers-CoV associated deaths have occurred since September 2012. 

Dr Jenny Harries, PHE deputy medical director, said: “A patient in hospital in Liverpool is being treated for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus [Mers-CoV] infection.

“The patient is thought to have contracted the infection whilst in the Middle East before travelling to the UK.

“Public Health England is following up those who have had close and sustained contact with the patient to offer advice and to monitor them as necessary.

“It is important to emphasise that although a case has been identified, the overall risk of disease transmission to the public is very low.

“As we’ve seen in previous cases, we have well established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed to minimise the risk of transmission.”