The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the situation arising out of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) as “serious and of great concern” but said it did not constitute a public health emergency of international concern at present.

The second meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by Director General of WHO reviewed the situation.

The Committee will offer technical advice to member States on various issues, including improvements in surveillance, lab capacity, contact tracing and serological investigation (studying blood sera).

MERS-CoV has symptoms similar to that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and results in acute respiratory tract infection, including pneumonia. It has affected many countries in the Middle East, China and Taiwan.

As many as 45 people have lost their lives across the world due to this condition. However, there have been no cases in India so far.

The Director General of Health Services in India has already issued an advisory to States asking them to increase surveillance on those travelling to affected countries.

The advisory said those showing signs of respiratory discomfort should be reported and kept under surveillance.

The Ministry has also asked the State health officials to step up surveillance under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme and collect pathological samples of patients who report such symptoms.

The samples should be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi, it said.

45 people have lost their lives across the world due to this condition