Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: updated guidance in ECDC Rapid Risk Assessment


​Latest on the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV, previously the novel coronavirus), including travel guidance and aircraft contact tracing guidance in updated ECDC Rapid Risk Assessment of 18 June 2013.

The latest update of ECDC Rapid Risk Assessment on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus(MERS-CoV) addresses:

  • Epidemiological situation since publication of the previous Rapid Risk Assessment on 17 May
  • Guidance on contact tracing, including aircraft contact tracing
  • Extension of the incubation period to 14 days, in line with WHO decision
  • Guidance to EU travellers to the Middle East.

As of 17 June 2013, 64 cases of MERS-CoV have been reported worldwide, including 38 deaths. All cases remain associated with transmission in the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan. This includes indirect association following secondary person-to-person transmission in the UK, Italy, Tunisia and France.

The reports of new infections in Saudi Arabia over the past few weeks indicate that there is an ongoing source of infection and low risk of transmission to humans in the Middle East. The source of infection and the routes of transmission have not yet been determined.

EU citizens travelling to the Middle East need to be aware of the presence of MERS-CoV in this area and of the small risk of infection. EU Member States may consider active information efforts for travellers to risk areas. Travellers who develop symptoms during travel or up to 14 days after their return are encouraged to seek medical attention, sharing their history of travel.

For any confirmed cases of MERS-CoV, close contacts must be monitored for symptoms for 14 days after the last exposure. Countries should trace contacts of confirmed MERS-CoV cases on aircraft.

The five person-to-person transmissions that have been documented in Europe, two of which are nosocomial, indicate that the risk of onward transmissions in Europe is significant, in particular in healthcare settings.