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Middle East respiratory syndrome not a public emergency

World Health Organisation confirms 15th case of deadly virus

July 18, 2013 10:52 by

After an emergency committee meeting on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation concluded that the Middle East respiratory syndrome, although ‘serious and of great concern’, is not a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

The committee’s 15 international experts unanimously agreed upon the decision, after hearing reports from authorities in Saudi Arabia and other countries where the MERS (or coronavirus) was found.

Since April 2012, the deadly SARS-like virus has reportedly infected 82 people and killing 45 of them. According to Reuters, several cases have been found in Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Tunisia, Britain, France, Italy and Germany.

“Based on these views and the currently available information, the WHO director-general, Margaret Chan, accepted the committee’s assessment that the current MERS-CoV situation is serious and of great concern, but does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern at this time,” the WHO said in a statement issued in Geneva.

Health experts began urgent talks on MERS-CoV on July 9 amid concerns about larger numbers of milder infections possibly going undetected.

In June, the WHO urged health workers to be on the alert for the deadly virus as it has the potential to cause a worldwide pandemic.



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