From Our Bureau

06th April 2020

The Corona Virus (CPVID-19) pandemic situation continued to be critical globally, with the confirmed cases across the world increasing to 12,10,956 and the death toll rising to 67,594 in the 211 affected countries and territories. 

According to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases increased by 77,200 and the confirmed death toll rose by 4,810 in the last 24 hours. 

In India, the number of confirmed cases touched 4,281 and the death toll reached 111 on 6th April. In all, 319 persons have been cured/ discharged from the hospitals after recovery.

In Telangana State, the total number of confirmed cases increased to 364, with 11 deaths and 45 cases discharged.  

Globally, European region continued to be the worst-hit, with 6,55,339 confirmed cases and 49,479 deaths. American region came next with 3,52,592 confirmed cases and 9,680 deaths. Western Pacific region’s tally stood at 1,12,522 confirmed cases and 3,861 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 74,347 confirmed cases and 3,861 deaths. South-East Asia region recorded 8,828 confirmed cases and 344 deaths and African region witnessed 6,616 confirmed cases and 243 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.

One new country/territory/area reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours: South Sudan.  At a joint press conference and in a co-authored opinion piece, the WHO Director-General and IMF Managing Director reiterated the importance of saving lives and saving livelihoods and made it clear that the trade-off between saving lives or jobs is a false dilemma.

Almost 90 per cent of the world’s students are now affected by nationwide school closures – that’s more than 1.5 billion children and young people. Together with UNICEF and the International Publishers Association, the World Health Organization has launched the ‘Read the World’ children’s reading initiative. WHO has also published advice for parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the media briefing on 6th April, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros said that “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on families, communities and nations the world over. But it’s also giving rise to incredible acts of generosity, solidarity and cooperation. We have said consistently that we’re all in this together, and we can only succeed together. We need an all-of-society approach, with everyone playing their part.”

“As the pandemic continues, we recognize that individuals and governments want to do everything they can to protect themselves and others – and so do we. We understand that some countries have recommended or are considering the use of both medical and non-medical masks in the general population to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he added.

“First and foremost, medical masks must be prioritized for health workers on the front lines of the response. We know medical masks can help to protect health workers, but they’re in short supply globally. We are concerned that the mass use of medical masks by the general population could exacerbate the shortage of these specialized masks for the people who need them most. In some places, these shortages are putting health workers in real danger,” he observed.

“In health care facilities, WHO continues to recommend the use of medical masks, respirators and other personal protective equipment for health workers. In the community, we recommend the use of medical masks by people who are sick and those who are caring for a sick person at home. WHO has been evaluating the use of medical and non-medical masks for COVID-19 more widely. Today, WHO is issuing guidance and criteria to support countries in making that decision,” he pointed out.

“For example, countries could consider using masks in communities where other measures such as cleaning hands and physical distancing are harder to achieve because of lack of water or cramped living conditions. If masks are worn, they must be used safely and properly. WHO has guidance on how to put on, take off and dispose of masks. What is clear is that there is limited research in this area,” he pointed out.

“We encourage countries that are considering the use of masks for the general population to study their effectiveness so we can all learn. Most importantly, masks should only ever be used as part of a comprehensive package of interventions. There is no black or white answer, and no silver bullet. Masks alone cannot stop the pandemic. Countries must continue to find, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact. Mask or no mask, there are proven things all of us can do to protect ourselves and others – keep your distance, clean your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face,” he added.

Less than 100 days since WHO was notified about the new coronavirus, research has accelerated at incredible speed. The viral genome was mapped in early January and shared globally, which enabled tests to be developed and vaccine research to start. More than 70 countries have joined WHO’s Solidarity Trial to accelerate the search for an effective treatment. And about 20 institutions and companies are racing to develop a vaccine. WHO is committed to ensuring that as medicines and vaccines are developed, they are shared equitably with all countries and people.

“Poorer countries and fragile economies stand to face the biggest shock from this pandemic, and leaving anyone unprotected will only prolong the health crisis and harm economies more. I call on all countries, companies and research institutions to support open data, open science and open collaboration so that all people can enjoy the benefits of science and research. One of the lessons I hope the world learns from COVID-19 is that we must invest in health workers – not only to protect lives, but also to protect livelihoods,” hr observed. (eom)

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