Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID – 19): WHO Update (25 March 2020)

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The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence,” WHO’s chief Dr Tedros said at a press conference Wednesday, calling on all countries “who have introduced so called lockdown measures, to use this time to attack the virus.”

“You have created a second window of opportunity, the question is, how will you use it?” Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) asked at a press conference in Geneva. “Aggressive measures to find isolate, test, treat and trace are not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions, they’re also the best way to prevent them,” he added.

As of March 25, WHO has recorded 414 179 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 440 deaths caused by the virus.

“We need to start looking at the data, we need to start breaking the problem down,” added Dr Micheal Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. “You can’t look at the whole country as one entity, you break the problem down. You look at your local geographies, you see what the situation is and each and every administrative level, and then you decide what the best tactics are,” he said.

Also speaking to media, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme said “when the situation is such that you have community wide transmission, and there are some areas of very large outbreaks, there’s ways in which you may need to prioritize some of those actions so that you could break down the problem.”

She added in “find those boundaries of where that big outbreak is so that you could bring it more under control. And in taking those, temporary, making those tough decisions temporarily, will help you bring you back to being able to actually find all those suspect cases.”

Dr Van Kerhove also spoke about the global shortage of medical equipment and importance of providing protection equipment to healthe workers.

“Protecting our healthcare workers must be the top priority for the use of this PPE. We’re working with technical partners across the globe to identify as ways in which we can manage this current shortage while we try to find solutions,” she said, adding that “we have to all play our part to make sure that we prioritise the use of PPE, we use PPE appropriately, and that is for our frontline workers who are caring for patients.”

Considering the spread of the virus throughout the continent of Africa, Dr Ryan said “it’s a challenging situation for all countries in Africa and the international community, I think, for all countries of the south and lower middle income countries need support.”

“The North must, while dealing with a massive crisis in its own regard, must move to protect the South because nobody is safe until we are all safe,” he concluded.

Dr Tedros pointed out at the importance of protecting elders from the novel coronavirus.

“Older people carry the collective wisdom of our societies. They are valued and valuable members of our families and communities. But they are at higher risk of the more serious complications of COVID-19. We are listening to older people and those who work with and for them, to identify how best we can support them. We need to work together to protect older people from the virus, and to ensure their needs are being met,” he explained.