Coronavirus though serious, not public health emergency

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Doctors look at an X-ray. Photo: WHO

The conditions for a public health emergency of international concern have not at present been met.

That is the unanimous decision of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee concerning the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of 82 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infections, including 45 deaths.

Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment at WHO Dr. Keiji Fukuda told reporters Wednesday that there is no vaccine for the disease and patients are cared for by general medical care.

"And basically what the emergency committee said is that the situation they see right now related to the virus is serious and is something that requires close monitoring. However, in their assessment, the current situation does not constitute a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ at present, based on the evidence they see before them."

Dr. Fukuda says the committee highlighted areas where WHO and Member States should pay attention including improvements in surveillance, lab capacity, contact tracing and serological investigation; Infection prevention and control and clinical management; Travel-related guidance; Risk communications; Research studies (epidemiological, clinical and animal) and improved data collection and the need to ensure full and timely reporting of all confirmed and probable cases of MERS-CoV.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’29″

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