Kerala on high alert over MERS

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala health department is on high alert after increasing number of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) cases were reported in Saudi Arabia.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV and was first reported in Saudi Arabia September 2012.

According to media reports, till date, 126 people have died due to the disease and 18 new cases have been recorded.  

Twenty-five percent of more than three million Keralites who work abroad are in Saudi Arabia.

Health and Family Welfare Department Secretary K. Ellangovan told IANS that his field staff are on the job and not a single case of MERS has been reported in the state.

"...we have not started to screen passengers coming from Saudi Arabia at the three airports in the state as no case has been reported. We are seized of the issue and would act at the appropriate time," said Ellangovan.

State Minister for Diaspora K.C. Joseph told IANS that they are aware of the situation and are closely monitoring it.

Health experts say that there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for MERS currently.

The illness is believed to have first occurred in camels.

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