Arab Hygiene Council advises increased levels of hygiene to safeguard public health in UAE

April 23, 2014 10:53 am

The Arab Hygiene Council has emphasized the strong need for increased levels of hygiene, as a preventative measure, in response to new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the UAE.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), from September 2012 to date, there have been a total of 243 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 93 deaths globally. The recent statistics by the WHO show that the number of reported cases between March and April 2014 have increased by 27.2%. The virus is infectious and is transmitted through close contact with other people leading to acute respiratory illness, fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

All human-to-human transmission has occurred either in a household, work environment, or healthcare setting; therefore, health and hygiene standards in public places and hospitals are vital to limit the spread of MERS-CoV infection.

Arab Hygiene Council member, Dr. Muhammad Halwani, Consultant in Infection Control, said: “Following the increased reports of cases of the MERS-CoV, we urge the public to become more vigilant when it comes to their personal hygiene practices. Healthcare workers should be educated and trained on infection prevention and control measures especially during positive patients care.”

“We know that good hygiene especially hand washing with a trusted antiseptic soap, appropriate respiratory measures and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces can help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Practising good hygiene is everyone’s responsibility and something we can do easily for ourselves, especially because MERS-CoV has no cure or vaccine and prevention is the only way to stay healthy”.

This advice from the AHC is particularly relevant during mass gatherings, such as Umrah and Hajj seasons when the risk of infection is the highest. Following the recommended hand-hygiene standards and respiratory etiquette is imperative to reduce the spread of disease. This includes regular and proper hand washing with warm water and a trusted antiseptic soap, such as Dettol that is scientifically proven to kill 100 illness-causing germs including the MERS-CoV virus.

The Arab Hygiene Council outlined a number of useful preventative measures to be taken to reduce the spread of illness across homes, schools, hospitals and other public places reinforcing the WHO guidelines:

• Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell, especially with the ones who have severe respiratory illness-like symptoms – i.e. cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties;

• Practice good hand-hygiene – wash your hands frequently with an antibacterial soap and water, ensuring all of the surfaces of the hands are cleaned thoroughly, especially between the fingers and under the fingernails. Once washed, dry your hands with a single use tissue paper;

• Practise cough etiquette: Sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands, to minimise hand contamination. Or use tissue and throw the used tissues away immediately and wash your hands to prevent spreading of the germs to others.

• Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with your hands, especially if you haven’t washed your hands;

• If soap and water is unavailable, use a trusted hand-sanitizer.

• Regularly disinfect hand contact surfaces such as door handles, taps and light switches especially in work offices.

• If you feel unwell with respiratory illness-like symptoms stay at home. Do not go to work and seek advice from your doctor or health authority via telephone. Visit your doctor only when he asked you to.

For more information please contact:

Zeina Kourki
Tel: +971 4 3900564