WHO Panel Agrees Coronavirus Not Yet an International Emergency

That was the consensus during a July 17 meeting of the Emergency Committee. The committee will reconvene in September, if not earlier.

The second meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the World Health Organization's director-general under the International Health Regulations took place July 17 by teleconference. Besides the expert committee’s members, an expert advisor to the committee, Karen Tan, senior director of the Public Communication Division of Singapore's Ministry of Communications and Information, participated, and representatives of some countries already affected by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) also participated; these included Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.

WHO's statement said the committee members agreed unanimously that, "with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met."

They discussed issues including:

  • Improvements in surveillance, lab capacity, contact tracing, and serological investigation
  • Infection prevention and control and clinical management
  • Travel guidance
  • Risk communications
  • Research studies (epidemiological, clinical, and animal)
  • Improved data collection and the need to ensure full and timely reporting of all confirmed and probable cases of MERS-CoV to WHO in accordance with the regulations.

The committee will reconvene in September, unless serious new developments require an urgent meeting before then, the statement says.

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