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Schools free of MERS, but exercise caution: Minister

RIYADH: Schools are free from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV), but students should follow basics of personal hygiene to avoid any form of infection, a health official has said.
“There is no need to worry about schoolchildren becoming infected with the virus, since the virus usually does not attack people aged under 19 years,” Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Health Abdullah M. Asiri said in an interview with Arab News.
He said that from the time of outbreak of the disease in the Kingdom, there have been only 12 cases among children. “Even these children were infected from another contact.”
Asiri, however, inisisted that basic rules of personal hygiene should be followed, irrespective of age. Such rules should include washing hands frequently and covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health reported six deaths and eight new cases of MERS which brought the total number of cases to 1,162, which included 498 deaths. Around 66 patients are currently under treatment and 598 have recovered.
The ministry will continue its Kingdom-wide awareness campaign on how to keep the virus away from the people, he said, urging people to cooperate with the department to successfully complete its task.
Speaking about the health program during Haj, Asiri said the ministry has implemented a 24X7 epidemiological surveillance system in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah to cover all primary health care centers and hospitals to monitor the virus within the holy areas.
“Under the program, we are fully ready with our facilities, equipment, health care workers and personal protective gear to meet any emergencies connected to the disease,” he said, explaining that health officials will frequently visit the facilities to identify any suspected cases of the virus.
He also said that there are three laboratories in Makkah, Mina and Arafat and four in Madinah which can give results of suspected samples within eight hours.
“In the event of diagnosing positive cases, authorities will isolate such patients and remove them from the sacred areas to prevent the spread of disease among other pilgrims,” Asiri added.

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