Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID – 19): WHO Update (06 May 2020)

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Originally broadcast live on 06 May 2020, the daily press briefing on coronavirus COVID-19, direct from WHO Headquarters, Geneva Switzerland with Dr Tedros WHO Director-General, Dr Micheal Ryan, Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme, and Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Ghebreyesus said the risk of returning to lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic “remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully, and in a phased approach.”

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Ghebreyesus said the risk of returning to lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic “remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully, and in a phased approach.”

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva today (06 May), Tedros said the COVID-19 pandemic would eventually recede, “but there can be no going back to business as usual. We cannot continue to rush to fund panic but let preparedness go by the wayside. As we work on responding to this pandemic, we must also work harder to prepare for the next one.”

The WHO chief said, “Now is an opportunity to lay the foundations for resilient health systems around the world, which has been ignored for long. That includes systems to prepare, prevent and respond to emerging pathogens. If we learn anything from COVID-19, it must be that investing in health now will save lives later.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead at WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme said the Organization assumed from the beginning that there would be human to human transmission, which was reflected in its first reporting to its Member States on 5 January.

Tedros said WHO’s guidance before, during 14 January and after actually included the likelihood of human to human transmission that helped countries to prepare. He stressed that an assessment would be made in what is called the “after-action review,” but called upon the world “to focus on fighting the fire.”

Addressing reports that the first COVID-19 case in France may have occurred in December, Van Kerkhove said the authors of the paper “themselves say that it could be a false positive, but assuming it’s not, it is possible that this individual may have had COVID-19 in December,” a month before the first case in country was reported. She said more information about this particular case was needed, “if this is the case, to find out, the different types of history that this individual may have had.”

Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said in many cases when someone is seriously ill and a diagnosis can’t be made, “very often, hospitals will freeze samples as a standard practice, which allows them to come back later and do further diagnostic tests should diagnosis or a new virus or anything else emerge,” which is what happened in the French case. He added, “We look forward to any further examinations that are done by other researchers around the world who may find similar cases.”

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