Following their second meeting, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee on MERS has decided the outbreak in Saudi Arabia does not yet constitute a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. As such, the committee is refraining from issuing any travel restrictions at this time.
The committee met via teleconference yesterday, with members from all eight states with cases of MERS participating. While the MERS outbreak is not a PHEIC yet, the Committee nonetheless stressed that the outbreak is “serious and of great concern”. The Committee members will continue to monitor the virus’ spread, and will reconvene formally again in September.
MERS, or the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, is a recently emerged virus which causes flu like symptoms and in 60% of cases, death. The virus’ vector and reservoir remain unknown.
For the full WHO press release, see here.
(Image depicts an SEM of MERS, courtesy of the CDC & Cynthia Goldsmith/Maureen Metcalfe/Azaibi Tamin)