WHO Statement on the Third Meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee concerning MERS-CoV
The third meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) [IHR (2005)] was held by teleconference on Wednesday, 25 September 2013, from 12:00 to 14:30 Geneva time (CET).
During the informational session, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar presented on recent developments in their countries. The WHO Secretariat provided an update on epidemiological developments, Hajj and Umrah and recent WHO activities related to MERS-CoV. The Committee reviewed and deliberated on the information provided.
The Committee concluded that it saw no reason to change its advice to the Director-General. Based on the current information, and using a risk-assessment approach, it was the unanimous decision of the Committee that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met.
While not considering the events to constitute a PHEIC, Members of the Committee reiterated their prior advice for consideration by WHO and Member States and emphasized the importance of:
- Strengthening surveillance, especially in countries with pilgrims participating in Umrah and the Hajj;
- Continuing to increase awareness and effective risk communication concerning MERS-CoV, including with pilgrims;
- Supporting countries that are particularly vulnerable, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa taking into account the regional challenges;
- Increasing relevant diagnostic testing capacities;
- Continuing with investigative work, including identifying the source of the virus and relevant exposures through case control studies and other research;
- Timely sharing of information in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005) and ongoing active coordination with WHO.
The WHO Secretariat will continue to provide regular updates to the Members, and currently anticipates reconvening the Committee in late November 2013. Any serious new developments may require re-convening the Committee before then.
Based on these views and the currently available information, the Director-General accepted the Committee’s assessment and thanked its Members for their advice.
1 The names and summary biographies of the Emergency Committee Members and of the Advisor are available on the WHO website.
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