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Infectious Disease

Deadly MERS virus is not global emergency, WHO committee says

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A electron microscope image of a coronavirus is seen in this undated picture provided by the Health Protection Agency in London.Reuters

The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) does not constitute a "public health emergency of international concern", the emergency committee of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, while offering technical advice on travel and other issues.

The body, composed of 15 international experts, issued a unanimous decision after hearing reports from authorities in Saudi Arabia and other countries affected by the deadly SARS-like virus that has infected 82 people and killed 45 of them.

"Based on these views and the currently available information, the (WHO) Director-General (Margaret Chan) accepted the Committee's assessment that the current MERS-CoV situation is serious and of great concern, but does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern at this time," the WHO said in a statement issued in Geneva.