Sunday, November 3, 2013

#MERS #Coronavirus Oman Confirmed Case, Contacts Are Screened

November 2, 2013

Coronavirus infection — By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT — Health authorities say they have begun screening family members, relatives, acquaintances and other individuals who may have come into contact with the patient diagnosed last week as Oman’s first confirmed case of MERS-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The objective, according to officials, is to make sure that none of these contacts may have been exposed to the deadly virus behind a simmering global outbreak that has so far claimed around 62 lives worldwide, chiefly in Saudi Arabia. Also as part of the screening effort, authorities are working to track down healthcare workers who may have first attended to the 68-year-old patient at a local health centre before he was transferred to the referral hospital at Nizwa.

Any contacts will be observed for any symptoms associated with the virus for a period of two weeks before they receive the all-clear, it is learnt. At the weekend, officials overseeing the investigation and management of Oman’s maiden coronavirus case travelled to Nizwa to ensure that well-established case detection, reporting and management procedures related to suspected coronavirus cases are stringently implemented in the health institutions concerned. Those procedures were formulated and rolled out earlier this year as part of preparedness plans formulated by the Health Ministry in anticipation of the odd case of coronavirus surfacing in the Sultanate. According to officials, the sensitisation of both public and private sector healthcare staff to the potential threat posed by the coronavirus began at the start of this year, when cases began surfacing around the Middle East and parts of Europe.

This sensitisation effort was achieved through regular awareness workshops and circulars that sought to enlighten frontline healthcare workers, as well as lab staff, about the precautions to be taken when faced with a suspect case. Meanwhile, the overall condition of the elderly patient, who is currently on a ventilator, is described as stable. A possible transfer to a suitably equipped tertiary hospital is among a number of options being weighed as part of the patient’s ongoing treatment, it is learnt.

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