The Saudi Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has ruled out media reports that an Indian nurse in the Kingdom was infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in China.
It has, however, confirmed two cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Abha city.
“No cases of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in #Saudi_Arabia so far,” the Khaleej Times reported on Friday citing a CDC tweet on Thursday night.
Instead, two female healthcare workers from Abha City, ages 38 and 27 respectively, have been diagnosed with MERS, it added.
The Indian Embassy in Jeddah has also clarified that the Keralite nurse under treatment at Aseer National Hospital has been diagnosed with MERS-CoV and not 2019-nCoV. MERS stands for Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome. It is a viral respiratory infection caused by the MERS-coronavirus.
This comes after Kerala Chief Minister wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar saying nurses working at the Jazeera Abha Al Hayath Hospital in Saudi Arabia have been identified as being infected with the coronavirus and asked him to take up the matter with the kingdom. He also urged him to ensure expert treatment.
Earlier, Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan had informed that about 100 Indian nurses mostly from Kerala working at Al-Hayat hospital have been tested and none except one nurse was found infected by Coronavirus.
Alert has been sounded by the government at all airports to screen the passengers in order to avoid the threat of the virus. Passengers, especially from the Middle East and South Korea, are being scanned.
The Health Ministry has also issued a travel advisory to those travelling to China. “We are on alert & our preparedness is sturdy. Passengers travelling from China requested to report to the nearest public health facility in case they feel any symptom,” health ministry tweeted.
After a case of one Indian teacher infected by the virus in China was reported, India issued an advisory last week against travel to Wuhan.
Advisory has been issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Indian consulates in China. People coming from China are taken through a specialised thermal screening process at airports.
The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.
The symptoms of infection include fever, cough and breathing problems.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Chinese authorities confirmed 830 new cases in the country, with a total of 25 fatalities.
The new virus was first spotted in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province.
Coronaviruses can infect both animals and people, and cause illness of the respiratory tract.
The symptoms of infection include high fever, difficulty in breathing among others. Detection becomes difficult when it surfaces like flu or a bad cold.
The incubation period from the time of exposure to the onset of symptoms is around two weeks.