China’s approach to containing epidemic contributes to global medical community — WHO

UNTV News   •   February 25, 2020   •   486

China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of the new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and continuously deadly epidemic, said an official with the World Health Organization (WHO) Monday.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Bruce Aylward, head of WHO Experts Advance Team, said China has undertaken aggressive efforts in effectively fighting the virus and its experience will contribute to the global medical community’s knowledge in tackling the virus.

Experts led by Aylward and those from China have just completed a joint mission starting from Feb. 16 and returned from central China’s Wuhan City, the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

He said, “But what we found was even though every province was suffering outbreaks and was getting infected, the governors were prioritizing the movement of medical teams and PVE out to Hubei and Wuhan. That’s a very important message for the rest of the world about how we work in the kind of solidarity, collaborative action that’s going to be needed to beat this virus. And the opinion of the joint mission, after looking at it very, very closely and in different ways, that there is no question that China’s bold approach to the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of what was a rapidly escalating and continuously be a deadly epidemic.”

China’s efforts have reduced at least 10,000 or even tens of thousands of possible infected cases, and its efforts can be recommended to the rest of the world, he added.

Apart from Wuhan, the 25 experts also visited Beijing, south China’s Guangzhou City and southwest China’s Sichuan Province, and talked to officials, medical workers and the public.

The joint mission found that even though people of all ages can be infected by the virus, the average age of patients is 51. Even as over 3,000 medical staff have been infected, new confirmed cases are on the decline.

“So first of all, the purpose of the mission right now was to look at what works, I’m not avoiding the question, but the purpose was what works. The single biggest lesson is speed, speed is everything. But what worries me most is, has the rest of the world learned the lesson of speed,” he said. (CGTN / CCTV VIA REUTERS CONNECT)

WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday (July 7) acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people.

“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing.

The WHO has previously said the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.

But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday (July 6) in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

Because those smaller exhaled particles can linger in the air, the scientists are urging WHO to update its guidance.

Speaking at Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said there was evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but that it was not definitive.

Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Van Kerkhove said the WHO would publish a scientific brief summarising the state of knowledge on modes of transmission of the virus in the coming days.

“A comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” she said.

“This includes not only physical distancing, it includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can’t do physical distancing and especially for healthcare workers.” (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

Brazil’s Bolsonaro confirms postive coronavirus diagnosis

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday (July 7) he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, adding in a television interview that he was in good health despite running a fever.

The right-wing populist, who has played down the severity of the virus which he has called a “little flu,” took the test on Monday after developing symptoms.

In the interview broadcast on state-run TV Brasil, Bolsonaro said he began feeling ill on Sunday (July 5) and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against COVID-19.

“It started on Sunday (July 5) with a certain feeling of unwell that worsened during the day on Monday (July 6), with malaise, tiredness, a bit of muscle pain and a fever that reached 38 degrees in the late afternoon. I then thought that with these symptoms, and with the presidency’s medic (believing it to be) a possible COVID-19 infection, I did a CT scan at the armed forces hospital here in Brasilia. And the lungs were clear,” Bolsonaro said.

Brazil has the world’s second-largest outbreak behind the United States. Latin America’s largest country has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June. Bolsonaro has also railed against social distancing rules supported by the World Health Organization.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with U.S. Ambassador Todd Chapman during July 4 celebrations. Pictures showed neither wearing a mask.

The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter on Monday (July 6) that the ambassador had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and the president’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro. The ambassador had no symptoms, but would undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said. (REUTERS)

Global COVID-19 cases exceed 11.32 million, deaths top 530,000

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020

The number of global confirmed infections of COVID-19 continued climbing to 11,327,790 cases, while the deaths caused by the virus rose to 532,340 as of 18:01 CEST, Monday, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

India has overtaken Russia to become the world’s third-worst affected nation in terms of infections.

India’s federal health ministry Monday morning said 425 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 24,248 positive cases, were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 19,693 and total cases to 697,413.

According to ministry officials, so far 424,433 people have been discharged from hospital after showing improvement.

Presently the country has entered the “Unlock 2.0” phase, though restrictions remain in full force inside the COVID-19 containment zones.

The country on Monday reopened a total of 3,691 tourist attractions after they were ordered to close three months ago.

On Friday the country’s civil aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced commercial international flights to and from India shall remain suspended until July 31.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States topped 130,000 on Monday, reaching 130,248 as of 23:33 GMT, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

A total of 2,931,142 cases have been reported in the country, an increase of over 55,000 from Sunday, according to the CSSE.

The state of New York reported the most cases and the highest death toll in the country, standing at 397,649 and 32,219, respectively. Other states with over 100,000 cases include California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Arizona, the CSSE data showed.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services, as of Monday, 200,557 confirmed COVID-19 cases had been reported in the state, an increase of 5,318 from Sunday. The death toll reached 2,655.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. state of Arizona exceeded 100,000 to reach 101, 441 on Monday, with 3,352 new cases in 24 hours, the state’s Department of Health Services said.

Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 65,000 on Monday after 620 more patients died in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 65,487, the Ministry of Health said.

The total number of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the start of the outbreak rose to 1,623,284, following a daily surge of 20,229 cases.

Some 927,292 patients have recovered from the disease, the ministry said.

The state of Sao Paulo, the country’s most populated, is also the hardest hit by the pandemic, with 323,070 cases and 16,134 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 121,879 cases and 10,698 deaths.

Russia recorded 6,611 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 687,862, the country’s coronavirus response center said in a statement Monday.

The death toll rose by 135 to 10,296, while 454,329 people have recovered, said the statement.

By Monday, Russia has conducted over 21.3 million tests.

Also by Monday, Germany had confirmed about 196,554 COVID-19 infections, increasing by 219 from the previous day, while deaths rose by four to stand at 9,016, according to a report from Robert Koch Institute.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejects the idea of backing away from the face mask requirement in the country’s shops, government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said Monday.

“Wherever the minimum distance cannot be guaranteed in public life, masks are an important and, from today’s perspective, still indispensable means,” stressed Seibert. The wearing of masks is still necessary in order to “keep the number of infections low and to protect other people and ourselves

The Tokyo metropolitan government confirmed 102 new daily COVID-19 cases in the capital on Monday, marking the fifth successive day infections have topped 100 in Tokyo amid a prolonged resurgence of cases.

Of the 102 new cases, the trend of younger people being infected has continued, the metropolitan government said, with 72 new infections being those in their 20s and 30s, or about 70 percent of the total.

Of the newly confirmed cases in the city of 14 million, 42 have no known infection route, with 35 of the cases connected to nighttime entertainment establishments in downtown districts in Tokyo.

As clusters of infections continue in such districts, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Monday that 31 of the new cases were connected to such a nightspot in a part of the city’s Shinjuku district.

The Tokyo metropolitan government has urged people to pay serious attention to such virus-hit downtown areas and preventative measures, or lack thereof, against the spread of the pneumonia-carrying virus being taken by establishments located there.

It has also urged Tokyo residents to refrain from making unnecessary trips across prefectural borders.

Tokyo’s cumulative COVID-19 cases have now reached 6,867, the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures, according to the latest official figures Monday evening, accounting for roughly one-third of Japan’s total cases.

Nationwide, cases increased by 174 on Monday, bringing Japan’s cumulative total to 19,996, not including COVID-19 cases connected to a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama.

Japan’s death toll from the virus stands at 991 people, according to the latest figures Monday evening from the health ministry and local authorities.

Australia’s coronavirus death toll has increased for the first time in about 10 days to 106.

Authorities in Victoria on Monday revealed that two men, one in his 90s and the other in his 60s, died from COVID-19 in hospital on Sunday and Monday respectively, taking the state’s death toll to 22.

Michael Kidd, the Australian government deputy chief medical officer, said in an update on Monday that there have been 140 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia in the last 24 hours.

Of the new cases, 127 were in Victoria. And this is the state’s biggest daily increase, according to local media.

In response to the spike in cases, New South Wales (NSW) has joined other states in closing its borders to Victoria. (Reuters)

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