Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Korean-WHO MERS Joint Mission Interim Statement

                          











 # 10,178


At the end of their second full day of work, the Joint Mission to Korea on MERS has released a short statement, and a list of interim recommendations. The plan is for this team to continue its work for three more days before offering its final report.


First, the official statement followed by a link and excerpts from a WHO press release.


REPUBLIC OF KOREA-WHO MERS JOINT MISSION messages to public:

With respect to the joint Republic of Korea/WHO mission, interactions have been excellent. There has been an open and candid exchange of information and experience, including the provision of detailed information about the outbreak and the control measures put into place, as well as discussion of existing challenges. Current efforts to control the outbreak and prevent further spread are being intensified.


Whenever an emerging pathogen like the MERS virus appears in a new setting (for example, in a new country), a timely and thorough investigation is critical, particularly to assess whether the virus and its transmission are changing, and to ensure implementation of the most appropriate control strategies.


The evidence presented thus far suggests that the pattern of the outbreak in the Republic of Korea may be similar to MERS outbreaks that have taken place in health care facilities in the Middle East. However, the situation is rapidly evolving and investigations are ongoing.

INITIAL RECOMMENDATIONS to the Korean Government as of 10 June 2015


  • Infection prevention and control measures should immediately be strengthened in all facilities across the country. 
  • All patients presenting with fever or respiratory symptoms should be asked about: contact with a MERS patient; visits to a health care facility where a MERS patient has been treated; and history of travel to the Middle East in the 14 days before symptom onset. Any patient with positive responses should be promptly reported to public health authorities and managed as a suspected case while the diagnosis is being confirmed.
  • Close contacts of MERS cases should not travel during the period when they are being monitored for the development of symptoms.
  • Strong consideration should be given to re-opening schools, as schools have not been linked to transmission of MERS-CoV in the Republic of Korea or elsewhere.


The WPRO (Western Pacific Region Office) of the WHO has issued the following press release, along with the above press statement:


Joint mission to Republic of Korea on MERS-CoV begins well

News release
 
A joint mission by the World Health Organization and the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare to review the situation regarding the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV) in the Republic of Korea, has begun its work with an open and candid exchange of information and experience. Initial recommendations provided by the joint mission have been welcomed by the government. 

The mission, which began yesterday in Seoul, is assessing the epidemiological pattern of MERS CoV in the Republic of Korea as well as the characteristics of the virus and clinical features. It is also reviewing the public health measures implemented to date.

Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security, who is co-leading the mission together with Dr Jong-Koo Lee, Director, Center for Global Medicine, Seoul National University, said that interactions in early discussions had been excellent. “The exchange of information and experience has included the provision of detailed information about the outbreak and the control measures that have been put into place, as well as discussion of existing challenges,” he said.

Dr Fukuda said that current efforts to control the outbreak and prevent further spread are being intensified. WHO has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on response measures since the outbreak began.

There have been 108 confirmed cases of MERS CoV (including 1 confirmed case in China) reported in the Republic of Korea so far, with 9 deaths. Whenever an emerging pathogen like the MERS virus appears in a new setting, for example, in a new country, a timely and thorough investigation is critical, particularly to assess whether the virus and its transmission are changing, and to ensure implementation of the most appropriate control strategies. 

The evidence presented thus far suggests that the pattern of the outbreak in the Republic of Korea may be similar to MERS outbreaks that have taken place in health care facilities in the Middle East. However, the situation is rapidly evolving and investigations are ongoing.

(Continue. . . )

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