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MERS not yet global emergency, WHO says

This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012. The World Health Organization says the evolving MERS outbreak in the Middle East is not yet a global health emergency. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases -
This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012. The World Health Organization says the evolving MERS outbreak in the Middle East is not yet a global health emergency. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases
— image credit:

By Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

The World Health Organization says the evolving MERS outbreak in the Middle East is not yet a global health emergency.

The Geneva-based agency says a committee of outside experts has advised it that while their concern about the situation has grown, the disease event does not currently meet the criteria for being declared a public health emergency of international concern.

WHO spokesman Dr. Keiji Fukuda says the committee decided "there is not convincing evidence" to conclude that the virus responsible for Middle East respiratory syndrome has become more transmissible from person to person.

Fukuda says that was the main reason the committee decided against recommending that the situation be declared a public health emergency.

He says the group concluded much of the recent sharp rise in cases was due to some large outbreaks of MERS in hospitals in Saudi Arabia and perhaps a seasonal increase.

The emergency committee will meet again in a few weeks, Fukuda says.

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