On Monday, in WHO: Asymptomatic MERS-CoV Case – UAE, we learned of an asymptomatic camel transport truck driver who tested positive for the MERS virus, and was in hospital isolation. Contact tracing was underway to see if anyone he had been in contact with was also infected.
Today we’ve a report of two new asymptomatic coronavirus cases – and while not explicitly referencing the earlier case – they are stated to have been discovered through `active case finding’ , which seems likely to have been part of the first case’s epidemiological investigation.
(UPDATE: In reviewing this report, it is possible that one of these `two’ cases may be the original truck driver, although that case was reported to the WHO a week ago. Hopefully we’ll see a clarification from the WHO in the next couple of days).
Although many MERS cases are linked to nosocomial transmission or direct contact with infected cases, and camels are presumed to play some part in introduction of the virus to humans, for most community acquired cases the source of infection remains unknown.
If (and it’s a big `if’) a `plausible chain of infection’ can be established between 2 or more asymptomatic MERS cases, we’d suddenly have a lot more information about how the virus may be being transmitted in the community.
While asymptomatic or very mildly ill cases are not all that uncommon, whether or not they can transmit the virus has not been established (see Study: Possible Transmission From Asymptomatic MERS-CoV Case).
So, while we don’t yet know enough about these cases – or how they might be connected – to come to any firm conclusions, we will definitely be watching these latest MERS infections in the UAE with interest.
The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD) announced two positive cases with MERS Coronavirus (MERS CoV).
HAAD said that the two cases have no symptoms and are in stable condition - and were confirmed positive through active case finding. The two cases are currently isolated at hospitals as a precautionary measure and the close contacts screening was conducted
From previous asymptomatic cases, individuals tend to clear the virus themselves within 10 - 14 days, but are kept in isolation in hospital during this time.
HAAD confirmed that it is coordinating with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other Authorities in the country, and has taken all necessary measures as per international standards and recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The MOH confirmed that it is monitoring the situation closely to ensure the health and safety of everyone.