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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

WHO forms emergency committee to prepare for MERS-CoV emergence

The World Health Organization is convening an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations to address the continuing threat of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). With committee members expected to be released today, the WHO panel will convene on July 9 for an initial meeting, according to published reports.

As of July 5, there were 79 confirmed cases and 42 deaths caused by the emerging coronavirus. There may be a subset of milder cases going undetected and the animal reservoir has yet to be determined. Facing these and other unknowns, the WHO committee will decide whether the threat constitutes a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” which would warrant immediate international action.

In its current form, MERS-CoV does not achieve a "reproduction value" high enough to emerge as a pandemic, even when the worst case numbers are projected, researchers reported last week in The Lancet.

'Our analysis suggests that MERS-CoV does not yet have pandemic potential," the authors found. "We recommend enhanced surveillance, active contact tracing, and vigorous searches for the MERS-CoV animal hosts and transmission routes to human beings."