The emergency committee (EC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has unanimously concluded that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have not been met, according to a recent WHO announcement.
WHO said that in light of this conclusion the EC will only be reconvening should circumstances require.
The 8th meeting of the EC convened on Feb. 4th by the director general under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) regarding MERS-CoV was conducted with members and advisers of the EC by teleconference and attended by countries, including Saudi Arabia, Austria, Oman, Qatar and Turkey. An update and assessment of MERS-CoV was presented on each country.
The committee noted that MERS-CoV cases continue to occur. The epidemiological pattern continues to be characterized by sporadic cases and clusters of cases in communities and in health care settings, mostly in Saudi Arabia, and with no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. A small number of exported cases have been reported among travelers, but there were no reported cases related to the Haj.
The committee emphasized that although the pattern of transmission appears relatively unchanged, the overall situation and the possibility of international spread remains a major concern.
A senior Ministry of Health official told Arab News that EC’s conclusion means the regular meeting of the EC that used to take every three months to evaluate the situation regularly is ceased and that Mers-CoV is no longer worrying internationally as it was before.
The acting representative of the WHO in the Kingdom, Dr. Hasan Al-Bushra, also told Arab News that this conclusion implies recognition by the international health community for efforts made by the Kingdom to fight the virus and their effectiveness.