Hospital A&E closed down amid Mers virus alert

Manchester Royal Infirmary closed its accident and emergency department while it investigates two patients with suspected Mers. Picture: PA
Manchester Royal Infirmary closed its accident and emergency department while it investigates two patients with suspected Mers. Picture: PA
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A HOSPITAL was forced to close its accident and emergency department amid an investigation into two patients with suspected Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus Syndrome (Mers).

Manchester Royal Infirmary said both patients had been isolated while they await their test results for the potentially deadly Sars-like virus.

There is no significant risk to public health

Dr Rosemary McCann

The hospital said there was “no significant risk” to public health.

The last person to be diagnosed in the UK with Mers was in February 2013, despite a recent rise in cases in the Middle East.

Dr Rosemary McCann, north west deputy director for Public Health England, said the risk of contracting the infection in the UK “remains very low”.

“We are aware of two individuals being tested for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers-CoV) in Manchester,” she said.

“Although cases continue to be reported from the Middle East, no new cases of Mers-CoV have been detected in the UK since February 2013.

“There is presently no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission of Mers-CoV, and the risk of contracting infection in the UK remains very low.

“The risk to UK residents travelling to Middle Eastern countries may be slightly higher than within the UK, but is still very low.

“Limited onward transmission in South Korea has been associated with healthcare settings, and the risk to UK tourists visiting South Korea is also considered to be very low.” The accident and emergency department was later reopened.

Public Health England said the risk to the public “remains very low” following the outbreak of the virus in the Middle East in 2012.

A spokesperson said: “This afternoon, we confirmed that we are currently investigating two patients for suspected Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus Syndrome – Coronavirus infection (Mers-CoV).

“Both patients were isolated for ongoing management of their condition while tests took place. One patient has now been relocated to North Manchester General. Results of the tests are still pending. Manchester Royal Infirmary A&E is now open to the public.

“We would like to reassure our patients and the general public that there is no significant risk to public health.”

Expert Dr Derek Gatherer said that outside hospitals, the risk to the general public is extremely low and the outbreak ought not to cause concern. The virus is not thought to be very contagious.

Symptoms of Mers, which is a member of the same family of viruses as Sars, include coughing and fever and it can lead to fatal pneumonia and kidney failure.

Most people infected have been older men with other medical conditions. There is currently no treatment and no vaccine.