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HICprevent

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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

January 12th, 2015

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."