Wednesday 27 January 2021 (UAE)

MERS virus UAE

Coronavirus in the UAE: Some information on this website is out of date as a result of measures taken in the UAE to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Confirm with official or authoritative sources.

MERS virus Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE

Warning: We are not a medical authority. Neither is Wikipedia, the Huffington Post, The National, the Gulf News, your Facebook or Twitter friends, the taxi driver this morning who has a brother working in a hospital in Upper Saniyastan. We regard sources such as WHO or the CDC as authoritative. We admit it's possible that they might be behind some sort of conspiracy to trick people into buying more medicine, but don't believe it. If such a conspiracy really was true, then we are all screwed in so many ways from here to Pluto that the MERS virus becomes an insignificant concern.

Feb 2015 update: The number of infections and deaths from MERS peaked in Apr or May 2014, and by Jun 2014 had dropped sharply. New cases are still appearing, and people still die but the rate is down to less than 10 cases and 1 death per week in 2015 so far. As of mid-Feb 2015, total cases about 980, total deaths about 360. Most still in Saudi Arabia or for people who have a connection to Saudi Arabia (travelling citizens, expat workers, or visitors to Saudi Arabia.

TL;DR version (Apr-May 2014): MERS is a deadly virus with flu-like symptons, killing about a third of confirmed cases since 2012. Not all cases are thought to be reported. Those that are, are usually quarantined. Most cases originate in Saudi Arabia. No cure or vaccine available (as of May 2014). Number of cases worldwide more than doubled from mid-April to mid-May 2014 from about 250 to over 500, and number of deaths increased 50% from about 100 to almost 150. Victims recover on their own within a week or two, or die.

The disease is infectious via air and body contact. Don't spit on your friends. Possibly originated in bats and transferred to humans via camels. Avoiding camels and bats might reduce the risk of contracting the MERS illness, but won't eliminate it.

Total deaths from Sep 2012 to mid-Apr 2014 was about 100, out of about 250 reported cases, with a sharp increase to about 150 deaths out of 540 confirmed cases by mid-May 2014. Most infections are in or originate in Saudi Arabia, and as of May 2014 all cases have originated in the Middle East. The handful of reported cases in Europe, Asia, and the US have a direct or indirect connection to Middle Eastern countries. Unknown how many cases go unreported since symptoms are similar to influenza (flu), and many people recover on their own without visiting a hospital or doctor. Medicine only helps to alleviate symptoms of coughing, runny nose, headaches, general malaise; it does not kill or cure the virus. Antibiotics are ineffective as MERS Coronavirus is a virus, not a bacteria. MERS is thought to be similar to SARS, less contagious but more lethal. SARS death rate was about 5%-10% (check, not confirmed), MERS death rate about 40% (of reported cases) as of Apr 2014, down to about 27% as of mid-May 2014.

For some perspective, influenza (flu) is estimated by the CDC to directly or indirectly kill about 1,000 people per day (worldwide), figure based on research, peer review, large-scale analysis of data, estimates based on statistics supplied by hospitals and medical authorities in the USA and around the world. The Huffington Post estimate is substantially lower, perhaps 1 or 2 people per day or per month, based on an opinion from a man with a doctoral degree in an unrelated field (political science or history or something). The UAE warning reportedly sent by the UAE Ministry of Health in Apr 2014 about avoiding malls, schools, for 72 hours was a hoax, the ministry said they did not send such a warning.

Country First
MERS case
Deaths Notes Last
Austria 02 Oct 2014 1   Saudi national who traveled to Austria 05 Feb 2015
France 22 Apr 2013  
Patient was in UAE, diagnosed and died in France.  
Greece 18 Apr 2014     Greek citizen resident in Saudi Arabia.  
Italy 03 Jun 2013  
Patient was in Jordan, one colleage, one relative also infected.  
Malaysia 17 Apr 2014  
Patient travelled to Saudi Arabia in Mar 2014.  
Qatar Sep 2012  
Saudi Arabia Sep 20121  
Turkey   1   Worker in Saudi Arabia 05 Feb 2015
First death Al Ain Apr 2014, second in Abu Dhabi Feb 2015. 12 Feb 2015
USA 02 May 2014 2
Patient from Saudi Arabia, second case 11 May 2014. Both ok. 15 May 2014
Yemen 13 Apr 2014  
  1. Timeline needs to be checked - Sep report refers to a death in Jun 2012 of a Saudi Arabian citizen, the first confirmed death due to MERS (Novel Coronavirus as it was known then)?

History and timeline of MERS

UAE Ministry of Health MERS virus warning (hoax)

An email or Facebook (or both) warning started to spread in mid-April 2014 after the death of a Filipino health worker in Al Ain from the MERS virus. The warning claimed to be from the UAE Ministry of Health but was a hoax. Original source of message unknown, first seemed to appear on about 15 or 16 Apr 2014 (earlier references seem to be backdated, not originally from that date). As with many similar hoaxes and scams, people are fooled because of laziness - it's easier to believe a paragraph of dramatic writing than to spend a bit of time investigating the truth of it. The text of the message is (different versions seen):

  1. Dear all UAE residence Kindly as per UAE health authority avoid any hot spots such: shopping malls, hospitals, parks, public places, water parks and beaches for the next 72 hours due to the spread of the new killing virus (Corona) which has been discovered recently in UAE - Al Ain and other parts of UAE including dubai, Ajman and sharjah, until further notice (it was discovered in al Ain and al ready 5 ppl died coz of it and they are Asian - Filipino nationals) Keep forwarding as it is fast spreading.
  2. Dear all UAE residents. Kindly as per UAE Health Authority, avoid any hot spots such as shopping malls, hospitals, parks, public places, water parks and beaches for the next 72 hours due to the spread of the new killing virus (Coronavirus) which has been discovered recently in UAE - Al Ain and other parts of the UAE including Dubai, Ajman and Sharjah, until further notice (it was discovered in Al Ain and already 5 people died because of it and they are Asian - Filipino nationals) Keep forwarding as it is a fast spreading disease.

Version 1 seems to be the original. Version 2 appears to be just version 1 with a couple of minor grammar corrections. Both versions make a number of errors and false claims:

Dramatic headlines in the press

References, sources

Other headings and notes


Last update Saturday 14-Feb-2015. Page development 1H 2T 3D 4L 5C.
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