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Govt adds MERS to notifiable diseases schedule

Hon Jo Goodhew
Associate Minister of Health

20 August 2013 Media Statement
Govt adds MERS to notifiable diseases schedule

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says New Zealand is improving its monitoring of, and ability to respond to, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

“The Government has decided to add MERS to the schedule of notifiable diseases, which means the health sector is required to report any confirmed or suspected cases within New Zealand to the Medical Officer of Health at their local public health unit,” Mrs Goodhew says.

MERS has caused more than 40 fatalities, mainly in Saudi Arabia. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends countries strengthen their surveillance and preparedness for this new disease. To date, no cases have been reported in New Zealand.

“This is a precautionary move and part of New Zealand’s strong existing preparedness for disease outbreaks, including pandemics,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“This adds to steps already taken this year for the unrelated H7N9 avian influenza virus, which is already notifiable as a type of non-seasonal influenza.

“It’s important people remember that the sort of pandemic experienced in 2009 with H1N1 influenza is always a future possibility and that this might be an opportune time for people to check their own pandemic preparations at home and for their family.”

Further information, including on being prepared for a pandemic, is available on the Ministry of Health website www.health.govt.nz.

Note: The addition of MERS to the schedules of the Health Act 1956 will take effect once the relevant Orders in Council have been made and published in the Gazette. This is expected to occur within the next few weeks.

ENDS

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