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Emergency Planning and Preparedness

MERS-CoV (Novel Coronavirus)

Last reviewed October 11, 2017
Last updated October 11, 2017

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to receive reports of laboratory-confirmed cases and deaths from MERS-CoV (Novel Coronavirus). As of September 21, 2017, the WHO has received reports of 2,081 laboratory-confirmed cases of whom approximately 35% have died. Most of the confirmed cases are in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (82%) and countries in the surrounding region; though cases have been reported in 27 countries.

Human patients infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) present with a variety of symptoms that range from mild illness to more severe disease. Patients often present with severe acute respiratory infection requiring hospitalization; however, some confirmed cases have presented with mild to moderate symptoms.

There is no vaccine currently available and no specific treatment for this virus.

The public health risk posed to the people of Ontario by this virus is considered low. This assessment has been made through consideration of the information available at this time, namely:

  • All cases have been linked to countries in the Middle East, with most of the cases occurring in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Although there is evidence of human-to-human transmission among close contacts and outbreaks in hospital settings, there is no evidence of sustained spread in community settings.

As it is possible that some people who have contracted this virus will travel from the Middle East to other countries, health care workers in Ontario should consider the possibility of MERS-CoV infection in persons with acute respiratory infection who meet the case definitions outlined in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's Guidance for Health Workers and Health Sector Employers on MERS-CoV.

The ministry's guidance also provides health care workers and health sector employers with information on laboratory testing and appropriate occupational health & safety and infection prevention & control measures.

The ministry has also developed the Emerging Infectious Respiratory Disease Roadmap. This document outlines the health system's initial response actions to a confirmed human case of a novel infectious respiratory disease, such as MERS-CoV. Health care workers and health sector employers can use the Roadmap as a tool to prepare for their response role in the event that a confirmed case of MERS-CoV is detected in their organization.

Ministry Updates

Further information about MERS-CoV

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