From Our Bureau    

26TH JUNE 2020

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 94,73,214 and the death toll reaching 4,84,249 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 47,09,927 confirmed cases and 2,33,628 deaths. Europe came next with 26,19,753 confirmed cases and 1,95,535 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 9,87,534 confirmed cases and 22,464 deaths.

South-East Asia region’s tally stood at 6,86,192 confirmed cases and 19,651 deaths. Western Pacific region recorded 2,10,315 confirmed cases and 7,394 deaths and African region registered 2,58,752 confirmed cases and 5,564 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.

On 25th June, Health Minister Jens Spahn of Germany, and Health Minister Olivier Veran of France, visited WHO headquarters. During a press briefing, they expressed their solidarity and additional support to both COVID-19 response and WHO’s core programmes.

Yesterday the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was declared over after nearly two years. The WHO Regional Office for Africa and partners are now building on the Ebola response to tackle COVID-19 in the country. Additionally, WHO is supporting other countries in Africa as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates in the region.

In a press briefing, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, spoke about COVID-19 in the region and how digital technology and artificial intelligence can empower people and play a leading role in optimizing efforts to control transmission of the disease.

At the media interaction today, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “We celebrated the end of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Many of the same public health measures that have been successful in stopping Ebola – like case-finding, isolation, testing, contact tracing and respectful care – are the same measures that countries are now deploying against COVID-19.”

“But we have also had a tool in the fight against Ebola that we do not yet have for COVID-19: an effective vaccine. Without it, there is no doubt we would have had more cases, and more deaths. It’s clear that to bring COVID-19 under control, and to save lives, we need effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics – in unprecedented quantities and at unprecedented speed. And it’s clear that because all people are at risk of COVID-19, all people should have access to all the tools to prevent, detect and treat it – not only those who can afford to pay for them,” he added.

“Two months ago, I joined President Emmanuel Macron, President Ursula von der Leyen and Melinda Gates to launch the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator – a global initiative between multiple partners to ensure equitable access to life-saving tools for COVID-19. Ahead of a major pledging event tomorrow led by the European Commission and Global Citizen in support of the ACT Accelerator, I’m delighted to be here today to announce further details about how the ACT Accelerator is working, and how we are ensuring that together, we live up to the commitments we have made,” he pointed out.

“The principle of equitable access is a simple thing to say, but a complicated thing to implement – it requires active collaboration between governments, industry, health organizations, civil society organizations, and communities. Vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital tools – but to be truly effective they must be administered with another essential ingredient, which is solidarity,” the WHO Director-General observed. (eom)

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