Those closest to an 82-year-old Emirati man who has become the second UAE resident to be diagnosed with the deadly novel coronavirus are being tested, the Abu Dhabi Health Authority says.
The patient has multiple myeloma as a result of the coronavirus, also known as the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV), and is currently in the ICU at one of the hospitals in Abu Dhabi.
This is the second case of the Mers-CoV infection in an Abu Dhabi resident but the first case to be diagnosed within the UAE.
In March, a 73-year-old Abu Dhabi man died in a German hospital from the Sars-like virus.
Last month, the Lancet medical journal reported that the deadly disease had its origins in the UAE and Qatar after tests showed that the Abu Dhabi man died of similar strain of the virus to the Doha man who was treated in Germany six months prior.
Health Authority — Abu Dhabi (HAAD) customer service and corporate communications director Dr Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi told Khaleej Times the authority was doing tests on “everybody around the patient”.
“Since December last year, we requested hospitals to monitor the situation and it is through this monitoring that we found out about this patient,” he said.
The HAAD was coordinating with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other authorities in the country and had taken the necessary measures as per the international standards and recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“We are doing everything required by the WHO,” Al Kaabi stressed.
In December 2012, the HAAD issued a circular to all healthcare providers on the necessary notification and reporting mechanisms of any suspected coronavirus cases.
That included clinical assessment, isolation and collection of specimens for laboratory tests.
Samples taken from suspected cases, such as bronchoalveolar lavage, tracheal aspirate, pleural fluid or sputum, should be kept on ice and sent to the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) laboratory for analysis.
SKMC is the testing centre for the Sars-like virus in the emirate.
Any suspected cases of coronavirus infection should be notified to HAAD, Al Kaabi said.
MoH officials Khaleej Times spoke with on Friday said they were not able to make further comment at this stage, but state news agency Wam reported the MoH had made an assurance the virus was not presently a public health concern and did not require a travel ban.
The ministry also added that it was “monitoring the situation closely to ensure the health and safety of everyone,” Wam said.
The new case brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of Mers-CoV infection worldwide to 80