WHO Emergency Committee Meets to Discuss MERS-CoV Risk, Clinical Management

The second meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Emergency Committee convened by the director-general under the International Health Regulations (2005) [IHR (2005)] was held by teleconference on July 17, 2013.

In addition to members of the Emergency Committee, an expert advisor to the committee participated in the meeting. During the informational session, several affected WHO member states were also on the teleconference. The States Parties on the teleconference included France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.

The committee reviewed and deliberated on information on a range of aspects of MERS-CoV, which was prepared or coordinated by the secretariat and WHO member states in response to questions presented by WHO members during the first meeting.

It is the unanimous decision of the committee that, with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met.

While not considering the events currently to constitute a PHEIC, committee members did offer technical advice for consideration by WHO and member states on a broad range of issues, including the following:

- 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)
- Improved data collection and the need to ensure full and timely reporting of all confirmed and probable cases of MERS-CoV to WHO in accordance with the IHR (2005).
The WHO secretariat will provide regular updates to the members and will reconvene the committee in September; however, serious new developments may require an urgent re-convening of the committee before then. Based on these views and the currently available information, the director-general accepted the committees assessment that the current MERS-CoV situation is serious and of great concern, but does not constitute a PHEIC at this time.

Source: WHO