WHO: No evidence to support new coronavirus is airborne

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2020   •   1119

MANILA, Philippines — Reports as to whether the deadly novel coronavirus can spread through the air have been circulating online but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no basis yet for the said claim.

WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyhasinghe maintained their position that nCoV may be transmitted via direct or close contact.

“Our position is that we don’t have evidence to support that. Our evidence is it’s still largely a droplet infection. So, I’m not quite sure what led to this rumor, it may have been something in the translation that led to this,” the WHO Official said.

“Our evidence at this point, points to the fact that this is largely respiratory infection that can be transmitted via droplets through close contact,” he added.

Dr.Rabindra said people must exercise vigilance in picking reports to believe especially in online platforms because the world is not only facing an epidemic but also an outbreak of false information.

“We need to establish that there are many things that are being reported by various countries and various researchers,” he said.

“Unless we have clear evidence to confirm that we cannot accept those theories. You are aware that we are fighting much faster an ‘infodemic’ than the virus spread,” he added.

The international health body also clarified that there is no verified information yet regarding increase in nCoV’s incubation period to 24 days neither the reports that nCoV is more infectious and has higher mortality rate than the Sever Acute Respiratory Ayndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

“If you look at the proportion of patients with severe disease, I believe that’s now 14% of all cases and the proportion of deaths is like 2% in comparison to the SARS where we had 14% and MERS where we had 34%,” Dr. Rabindra explained.

“Numerically, we are seeing more deaths but if you look at the rates it is much lower. During the SARS outbreak if my memory serves me right, we have about 8,000 cases right and 780 deaths. This time around we have 5 times as many cases already confirmed,” he concluded.

The Philippines is stepping up its preventive measures by adding 1,500 primer or reagents from WHO.

This project is part of WHO’s efforts to strengthen the country’s capability in combatting nCoV.

Such devices will facilitate faster test results among nCoV suspected patients and they can be released right away once they are tested negative of the virus.

To date, there are a total of 382 persons under investigation (PUIs) in the Philippines, 266 of them remain in hospitals.

There remained three confirmed cases of nCoV in the Philippines, two have already recovered while the other one lost the battle to the novel coronavirus. – MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Global COVID-19 infections surpass 10.9 million

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

The global number of confirmed infections of COVID-19 reached 10,922,324 and the disease claimed 523,011 lives as of 14:31 CEST Saturday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO data showed the Americas reported the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world with the number reaching 5,575,482, followed by Europe and Eastern Mediterranean which confirmed 2,757,556 and 1,135,604 cases, respectively.

The United States topped all countries with 2,724,433 cases. The numbers of the confirmed cases in Brazil, Russia and India are also prominent, reaching 1.49 million, 674,515 and 648,315, respectively.

In Russia, the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 10,000 to reach 10,027 on Saturday. Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, reported 680 new cases on the day, taking its tally of infections to 224,210.

Germany has launched fast-track COVID-19 testing in some airports for international travelers as it gradually recovers flights and tourism industry.

The test at an onsite laboratory costs 190 Euros per person. The results will come out in three to four hours.

In the United Kingdom, people welcomed “Super Saturday” as the country reopened barber shops, bars and restaurants.

Early in the morning on Saturday, long queues formed at the door of almost every barber shop as patrons lined up to finally have a haircut after being confined to their homes for more than three months.

Japan confirmed 114 new cases from 00:00 to 15:00 on Sunday, seeing the fourth consecutive day reporting more than 100 new cases in a single day.

The Iranian government has made wearing face mask in public places mandatory from Sunday amid increasing infections and fatalities brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It requires all people to wear face masks at public gathering places, indoor public places and in government offices providing public services.

In Turkey, shopping malls are grappling with the slowdown in business as the country faces an economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Bank recently estimated Turkey’s economic growth to be 0.5 percent this year,0.3 percentage point lower than the bank’s prospect before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Egypt is seeing rising unemployment rate due to the pandemic. The rate has increased from 7.7 percent in this year’s first quarter to 9.2 percent in April, recording 2.6 million jobless people.

The bleak employment situation is also happening in South Africa. The country’s youth unemployment rate was close to 60 percent before the COVID-19 hit. The rate now is likely higher as the pandemic affects the country’s economy and creates fewer job opportunities. (Reuters)

COVID-19 pandemic speeding up globally, more resilience needed: WHO chief

UNTV News   •   June 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is still speeding up, and the world will have to face a new normal of living with the virus in the coming months, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday.

According to WHO data, as of 15:15 CEST on Monday, the total confirmed number of COVID-19 cases reported to the WHO worldwide had amounted to 10,021,401, including 499,913 deaths.

At a press conference held on Monday, Tedros said that Tuesday marks six months since the first reports of COVID-19 cases in the world. As the global cases exceed 10 million, people should rethink the lessons they’ve learned, and recommit themselves to doing everything to save lives.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world and our lives would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus. The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of humanity. All over the world, we have seen heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity, and kindness. But we have also seen concerning signs of stigma, misinformation, and the politicization of the pandemic,” he said.

Tedros said that globally, the pandemic is speeding up. He warned all countries to prepare for a long-term battle.

“The critical question that all countries will face in the coming months is how to live with this virus. That is the new normal. We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is, this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress, globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up,” he said. (Reuters)

Coronavirus pandemic getting worse globally, WHO head Tedros says

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is subsiding in Europe, but getting worse globally with the number of infections expected to reach 10 million next week and the number of deaths 500,000, the head of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday (June 25).

Speaking via video-conference with members of the European Parliament’s health committee, Tedros said more than 9.2 million COVID-19 cases had been reported to the Geneva-based WHO.

He warned the international community that the virus is still circulating, adding it was ‘time to be on our guard, not to let it down.’

The former Ethiopian health minister said it could take a year before an effective vaccine against the coronavirus that has caused the COVID-19 pandemic were to be invented.

Tedros rejected criticism that China did not warn other countries about the epidemic early enough, saying it was not possible to compare its response time with anyone.

He praised the Chinese authorities for the ‘very strong social measures’ it implemented in Wuhan – where the disease was first identified in late 2019 – and for being able to ‘identify the virus at a record time.’ (Reuters)

(Production Clement Rossignol)

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