WHO raises concern about possible spread of MERS among hajj pilgrims…(Bank On It!!)
By Eryn Brown
September 25, 2013
The World Health Organization’s emergency committee on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, met Wednesday.
After hearing updates on the spread of the virus — which as of Sept. 20 had killed 58 of the 130 people confirmed to have contracted it, most in Saudi Arabia — the committee decided against calling the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”: a situation that requires a certain level of immediate, coordinated international action.
At the same time, the group urged countries to strengthen MERS-CoV surveillance and improve their ability to diagnose the illness as pilgrims return to their homes from the hajj pilgrimage later this fall. The hajj typically brings around 3 million travelers each year to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
“Levels of surveillance are suboptimal in a number of countries that may be particularly at risk,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general for health security and environment, during a call with reporters at the close of the session.