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Sri Lanka’s MERS alert on KSA-bound flights

The Sri Lankan government is warning passengers heading to Saudi Arabia to take precautions against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has infected 119 people and caused 51 deaths in the Kingdom.
An official from the Colombo Ministry of Health told Arab News at Katunayake International Airport recently that the advisory was for all Middle East passengers.
The officer distributed brochures on the virus in Sinhalese, Tamil and English languages to all outbound and inbound Middle East passengers.
“We are discouraging people who have chronic problems such as diabetes, kidney, lung and cardiac diseases, from going to the Kingdom. These diseases will increase the risk of becoming victims of the virus,” he said.
“We are also telling outbound passengers to maintain personal hygiene such as washing their hands before food consumption, eating well-cooked food, washing raw vegetables and fruit before consumption, covering their noses while sneezing and avoiding unnecessary contact with farm, domestic and wild animals.”
He said incoming passengers are warned to watch for symptoms of the virus such as high fever, coughing, runny nose, shortness of breath and diarrhea.
A recent study on MERS-CoV conducted by the Ministry of Health showed that it is more complex than previously thought. The study suggested the virus could have come from humans or animals.
The study was conducted in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the University of Edinburgh, and the University College London (UCL).
Researchers studied the genetic sequences of some samples of the virus taken from 21 patients in different parts of the Kingdom. Researchers linked the geographical location of patients and time of injury with the amount of genetic differences that were observed between the genomes of the virus. This gave a clearer image of how the genome of the virus changes and spreads over time.
The genome sequencing identified several infection chains of MERS-CoV in humans.

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