WHO, South Korea fight MERS-CoV outbreak

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and South Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare recently agreed to undertake a joint mission to fight the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in the country.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the assistant director-general for Health Security, will lead the WHO team, which will be made up of experts from various fields, including virology, infection prevention and control, epidemiology, and clinical management. The team also will include public health officers who have prior experience with other outbreaks of MERS-CoV in the Middle East.

The main purpose of the undertaking is to gather information and evaluate the situation in South Korea. The experts will study the characteristic virus epidemiological pattern and clinical features. Health professionals also will evaluate the efforts of the public health response team currently in place and also offer recommendations for improving response actions as the country moves forward.

The WHO maintains that there is no human-to-human transmission with MERS-CoV, and so far there has been no evidence that suggests airborne transmissions. Despite these factors, health professionals do state that this is a fairly new disease, so information gaps are possible.

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