WHO participates in teleconference on MERS-CoV

The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee held its fifth meeting regarding Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) on Tuesday via teleconference.

The meeting included three expert advisors and representatives from thirteen affected states that have reported cases of MERS-CoV or evidence of infection since December. These parties included Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Yemen.

The secretariat from the World Health Organization presented an update on the increase of cases and an assessment of epidemiological and scientific developments.

Though the seriousness of the situation has increased, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. The committee, therefore, agreed that the case had not yet reached the level of Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The committee showed concern over the sharp rise in cases, which could be the result of weaknesses in infection prevention, gaps in information and the possible exportation of cases to vulnerable countries.

Countries were urged to improve their infection prevention; conduct critical investigations; support the most vulnerable countries; strengthen the identification and management of cases; enhance awareness to the general public, health professionals and policy makers; and to strengthen collaboration between organizations and governments.