WHO Committee Calls For Increased MERS-CoV Surveillance During Hajj, Stops Short Of Declaring ‘Public Health Emergency’

“A [WHO] emergency committee on Wednesday asked countries to step up monitoring for [the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)] as Muslim pilgrims from around the world return home from the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia, home to most of the victims so far,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “[T]he hajj draws more than three million pilgrims from dozens of countries for worship in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina,” the newspaper notes (Knickmeyer, 9/25). Despite the concerns over MERS-CoV addressed during the meeting, “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,” the Los Angeles Times writes (Brown, 9/25). This decision by the committee “reaffirmed its earlier finding that the status of [MERS-CoV] does not currently represent a global public health emergency,” according to CIDRAP News (Roos, 9/25).

“Health officials have yet to determine how MERS, which typically causes respiratory infections, and sometimes kidney problems, infects humans,” the Wall Street Journal writes (9/25). “We’re still early in our understanding of how to put this together,” Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director general for health security and environment, said during a conference call with reporters, the Los Angeles Times reports (9/25). In another article, the Wall Street Journal examines the response to MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia (Knickmeyer/McKay, 9/24).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KFF | twitter.com/kff

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.