WHO committee: MERS coronavirus advice includes increased surveillance related to Hajj pilgrims
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency committee met on Wednesday for the third time since July to go over the latest developments concerning the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and offered advice on dealing with the virus with the upcoming Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj.
According to a WHO statement, during the session the 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 decision to not declare the MERS situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) remains unchanged; however, the committee offered the following advice to Member nations:
- strengthen surveillance, especially in countries with pilgrims participating in Umrah and the Hajj;
- continue to increase awareness and effective risk communication concerning MERS-CoV, including with pilgrims;
- support countries that are particularly vulnerable, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa taking into account the regional challenges;
- increase relevant diagnostic testing capacities;
- continue with investigative work, including identifying the source of the virus and relevant exposures through case control studies and other research; and
- continue timely sharing of information in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005) and ongoing active coordination with WHO.
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