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Online Survey Finds Support For MERS Travel Screenings Despite Limited Knowledge About Virus

“Little is known about a SARS-like virus that has infected people in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, but there is strong support around the globe for screening travelers to prevent the spread of the disease, according to … [a]n Ipsos online survey of more than 19,000 people in 24 countries,” Reuters reports. The survey “showed that fewer than half of people questioned knew much about the disease known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or MERS, which has infected 88 people and killed 45 people,” the news service notes. “Although awareness is low, most people said they are concerned about how prepared their nations are and would alter travel plans to avoid countries where cases have been reported,” the news service writes.

“More than 80 percent of people questioned in developed countries said inbound travelers from countries with cases of MERS should be screened for the illness,” Reuters notes, adding, “The [percentage] rose to 90 percent in less industrialized countries.” According to the news service, “Support was highest in China, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, where the illness has been reported, and Italy, which has also been affected, as well as in Australia, Canada and Argentina.” Reuters adds, “Last week the [WHO] reported six new cases of MERS in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, including five health workers and one person who had been in contact with an infected person” (Reaney, 7/24).