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Health Authorities Remain on Alert for MERS

FILE - A South Korean official, left, uses a thermal camera to checks the body temperature of a driver as a precaution against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after he returned from Kaesong, North Korea, near Panmunjom, South Korea, June 13, 2015.

The virus, first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, has no cure or vaccine.

Cambodian health officials say they remain on alert for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.

In July, South Korea declared the end of an outbreak of the disease, which had killed dozens of people there. The virus, first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, has no cure or vaccine.

Cambodia has trained hundreds of health workers to respond to the disease, though no infections have yet been reported in Cambodia, Ly Sovann, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said.

There are detection systems in place at airports and other international checkpoints, he said. “We are keeping our eyes on the people who come back from [Middle Eastern] countries or who go through those countries.”

Kousoum Saroeuth, governor of Banteay Meanchey province, on the Thai border, said hospitals there are also prepared to admit people suspected of being infected with the disease, including Cambodian Muslims returning from Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Those people with symptoms, such as a fever, cough and sore throat, should go to the hospital as soon as they can, said Ly Sovann. “They have to tell the doctor their travel history. When they inform on time and cooperate with the Ministry of Health or a hospital, it means they are protecting 14 million people.”

Vicky Houssiere, a communications officer for the World Health Organization, said they had helped educate Cambodian Muslims traveling for the Haj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

“MERS is still infecting people in the Middle East, so we still need to be on alert,” she said. “As long as the disease is spreading, we still need to continue to be on alert.”