No travel curbs over SARS-like disease: WHO

WHONEW DELHI: The World Health Organization said the situation arising out of the spread of SARS-like Middle East Coronavirus in many countries is serious but does not constitute a public health emergency and does not recommended any travel or trade restriction yet.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) can cause fever, coughing and pneumonia. It is related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and its symptoms are also similar to H1N1 or swine flu and has already killed 45 persons across the world.

“WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions,” a WHO statement said.

“It is the unanimous decision of the Committee that, with the information now available, and using a risk-assessment approach, the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern have not at present been met,” WHO said after a meeting of its International Health Regulation Emergency Committee.

India has, however, sent an advisory to all states on the spread of the MERS virus, saying it has become a global threat and patients with travel history to the Middle East, China and Taiwan, who show signs of respiratory discomfort, should be reported and kept under surveillance.

The Director General Health Services has asked its airport health officials to screen all inbound passengers with flue- like symptoms for H1N1 and MERS. -PTI

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