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Health officials allay coronavirus fears

Bahrain News
Tue, 12 Apr 2016
By Sandeep Singh Grewal

Manama: Health officials yesterday moved to reassure the public after the first new case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV) was detected in Bahrain.

A Saudi patient who tested positive for the lethal virus on Saturday, at the BDF Hospital, was transferred to Saudi Arabia yesterday accompanied by a team of specialists from Bahrain.

“Everything is under control now, since the patient has left the country, and there is no need to panic,” said hospital infection control unit chief Dr Manaf Al Qahtani.

The patient underwent an open-heart surgery at the hospital’s Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Cardiact Centre and later tested positive for the virus, prompting hospital officials to activate their “preparedness plan” to prevent any outbreak.

“The cardiac centre will be functioning normally now,” said Dr Al Qahtani.

“The patient was transferred last month from the Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare to BDF Hospital to undergo treatment.

“After the operation he was screened again due to symptoms suggestive of coronavirus and he tested positive.

“His family did not tell us initially that he was in contact with camels.”

The doctor told the GDN the patient was critical and taken to Saudi Arabia yesterday in an ambulance via the King Fahad Causeway.

This is the first case of the deadly virus to be registered in Bahrain since the disease was globally discovered in 2012.

The GDN reported yesterday that a Saudi medical team visited Bahrain to provide expertise and advice and to look at preparations being taken to fight the virus and work on preventing it from spreading in the healthcare facility.

The doctor said tests were conducted on 54 healthcare workers who were in contact with the Saudi patient while he underwent treatment.

He said the results were negative but they will have to undergo a second round of tests this week.

“We will test the 54 healthcare workers this week and the plan will remain active for 14 days which is the incubation period.”

“Some of the workers have been asked to stay at home which is part of the home isolation protocol.”

Dr Al Qahtani said that colleagues who have been asked not to report to work have started to contact him directly via special hotlines set up to address their complaints.

“They can directly call me and we are assisting them as they put their lives at risk every day.”

The doctor praised the efforts of staff at the Public Health Laboratory for working round the clock since Saturday to test the samples of healthcare workers.

“I would like to thank the entire team including those in the laboratories because each tests take about six hours and they tested 54 samples.”

The doctor said they will be holding a special briefing session about Mers-CoV for staff at the BDF Hospital today.

The Health Ministry is co-ordinating with the BDF Hospital since the case came to light last week with different teams assigned to deal and prevent any outbreak.

Mers-CoV is a highly infectious virus that produces severe flu-like symptoms.

There is no cure or vaccine and, according to the World Health Organisation, 1,698 laboratory-confirmed cases of Mers-CoV have been identified worldwide, with 609 deaths being registered.

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