News Scan for Dec 27, 2013

WHO confirms MERS cases
Pandemic planning tool

WHO confirms four Saudi MERS-CoV cases, raising total to 170

The World Health Organization (WHO) today recognized four Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases recently reported by Saudi Arabia, including one death, raising the agency's global count to 170 cases and 72 deaths.

The fatal case was that of a 73-year-old man from Riyadh who had chronic diseases and died on Dec 18 after 3 days in a hospital, the WHO said. He had been exposed to animals but had not traveled recently.

Another case involves a 53 year-old Riyadh man with chronic diseases who was hospitalized on Nov 26 and is currently being treated in an intensive care unit, the agency said. He had contact with another MERS-CoV patient but had no exposure to animals and no travel history outside the Riyadh region—details that were not included in an earlier English-language statement from the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH).

The WHO said the other two cases involved female healthcare workers from Riyadh who had no symptoms. The agency did not list their ages. The earlier MOH statement said the two workers were exposed to a MERS-CoV patient.

Yesterday an Agence France-Presse story that was based on a Saudi MOH statement cited three cases in healthcare workers, including a 27-year-old Saudi and two foreigners, a 43-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man. It was not clear which of those three was left out of today's WHO statement.

Saudi Arabia's count of MERS cases stands at 141, including 57 deaths.
Dec 27 WHO statement
Dec 20 Saudi MOH statement
Related Dec 26 CIDRAP News story


CDC tool for measuring pandemic preparedness used by scores of countries

A method developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and partners for assessing countries' pandemic influenza preparedness capabilities has been used by more than 40 countries to document preparedness and gauge progress, according to a report published Dec 23 in the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Diseases.

Called the National Inventory of Core Capabilities for Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response, the tool was developed to provide a means of systematically collecting data on coverage, quality, and timeliness in 12 areas of preparedness and response.

The inventory was used by 40 countries in 6 WHO regions in 2008, according to the report. In 2010, it was used by 36 countries, and in 2012, by 39.

The areas included in the inventory are (1) country planning, (2) research and use of findings, (3) communications, (4) epidemiologic capability, (5) laboratory capability, (6) routine influenza surveillance, (7) national respiratory disease surveillance and reporting, (8) outbreak response, (9) resources for containment, (10) community-based interventions to prevent the spread of influenza, (11) infection control, and (12) health sector pandemic response.

Within each area of capability are specific indicators that are rated on a four-point scale. In the category resources for containment, for example, the indicators include availability of antivirals, storage facilities, exercises and practice, and distribution of materials.

Participants arrive at scores for each indicator through discussions guided by trained facilitators. According to the review, these discussions yielded meaningful information beyond numerical scores by bringing together key personnel involved in planning and making them aware of their collective efforts.
Dec 23 Influenza Other Respir Dis review
National Inventory Web page


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