Bahrain to launch campaign against MERS virus

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Manama: Bahrain's health ministry announced Sunday that it plans to launch a nationwide awareness campaign on the latest outbreak of the deadly Middle Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the region.

It follows similar education initiatives taken by neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia, which has reported 371 confirmed infections of the killer virus and a death toll of 107 people in the past two years, according to Xinhua.

"Bahrain has contingency plans in place to control the outbreak of coronavirus and all hospitals and health centers have been instructed to report immediately any suspected cases," Health Minister Sadiq al-Shehabi said in a statement.

The minister called his Saudi counterpart Adel Fakeih Sunday and discussed plans and strategies to rein in the virus and deal with new infections.

Shehabi stressed on a "common road map", in both countries that cover all stakeholders, including health care workers, to control the spread of the virus.

He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) accredited public health lab staff will also work round the clock to deal with any emergency.

In addition, a national campaign will soon be launched to educate citizens and foreign workers about precautionary measures.

Shehabi added that cases of MERS virus are low and do not amount to a "global epidemic", based on the WHO criteria.

"Bahrain has not registered a single case of MERS so far. Bahrain's health services are ready to deal with suspected or confirmed cases, and the protocol is adopted according to the WHO guidelines," he said.

The health ministry reported Saturday that four patients in Bahrain were suspected of having contracted the virus, but test results later showed the patients were not infected.  

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