From Our Bureau               

9TH JULY 2020

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 1,18,74,226 and the death toll reaching 5,45,481 in the 216 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Globally, American region continued to be the worst-hit with 61,25,802 confirmed cases and 2,72,606 deaths. Europe came next with 28,47,887 confirmed cases and 2,01,853 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 12,22,070 confirmed cases and 29,127 deaths.

South-East Asia region’s tally stood at 10,32,167 confirmed cases and 26,808 deaths. African region registered 4,10,744 confirmed cases and 7,559 deaths. Western Pacific region recorded 2,34,815 confirmed cases and 7,515 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.

WHO has partnered with Facebook and to provide COVID-19 information in Free Basics and Discover, in a mobile-friendly format. This will enable some of the most vulnerable people to access health information without any data charges, in more than 50 countries.

A WHO mission arrived yesterday in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, to assess the risks and develop the response mechanisms required to tackle COVID-19. “This mission reflects the commitment of WHO to a strong partnership with the central Asian countries.” said Dr Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer in WHO’s Europe region and mission lead.

The Regional Office for the Americas has been holding webinars on a range of issues in relation to COVID-19. Tomorrow, they will hold a webinar focusing on ‘Caring for the Carers: Managing your Mental Health While Caring for Others.’, WHO’s health emergencies online learning platform, has published courses on thirteen COVID-19 topics with more than 3.7 million enrollments. In the meantime, the WHO Academy, which aims to build one of the world’s largest and most innovative digital learning platforms, is holding a survey from 8th to 29th July.

Subject in Focus:

WHO COVID-19 support to Africa

As of 7 July, there have been 493,131 cases of COVID-19 and 11,643 deaths reported from the African continent – a 25 percent increase in cases and 18 percent increase in deaths over the past week.

WHO is working closely with Ministries of Health and other partners in the African region to support the strengthening of essential health services in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO continues to advise and support countries to strengthen both emergency and routine health services and to maintain influenza surveillance and other disease control strategies.

As countries begin to reopen borders and resume air travel, including commercial flights, WHO urges governments to take effective measures, including entry and exit screenings and the practising of hand hygiene, cough etiquette and physical distancing measures, to mitigate the risk of a surge in COVID-19 transmission due to the resumption of commercial flights and airport operations.

After initial delays in delivering medical supplies for the COVID-19 response, the reopening of air spaces and increased availability of commercial flights in recent weeks have been a critical factor in facilitating shipments and the delivery of personal protective equipment, diagnostic tests and biomedical equipment.

Over the coming weeks, WHO Operations Support and Logistics (OSL) is preparing to ship nearly 47 million items of personal protective equipment, including medical masks, examination gloves, gowns, face shields and goggles to countries across Africa.

WHO is also seeing progress in the procurement of diagnostic tests through a purchasing consortium comprising WHO, UNICEF and the Global Fund. In recent weeks, the consortium has begun deliveries of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to approximately 130 countries.

More than 420,000 PCR tests have been delivered to Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. An additional 626,000 tests are presently in transit to 25 countries, and 910,582 tests are awaiting shipment to 42 countries.

More than 195,000 sample collection kits also have been delivered to 25 countries, and an additional 866,700 kits are in transit to 37 countries. To date, 2,522 oxygen concentrators have been shipped to 26 countries and an additional 700 are being prepared for shipment to 30 countries.

WHO continues to provide operational and technical design support, upon the request of governments and UN partner agencies, to establish Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) treatment facilities in Africa and other regions. In collaboration with a network of architects and engineers, WHO has assisted 15 countries in setting up SARI treatment centres to support the COVID-19 response.

The OSL HealthTech unit continues to accept requests for technical assistance via the HealthTech Help Desk. Current projects in Africa include facilities in Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Chad. (eom)

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