From Our Bureau    

9TH JUNE 2020

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 70,39,918 and the death toll reaching 4,04,396 in the 216 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Globally, European region continued to be the worst-hit in terms of fatalities with 23,03,361 confirmed cases and 1,84,671 deaths. American region came next with 33,66,251 confirmed cases and 1,83,950 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 6,58,614 confirmed cases and 14,913 deaths.

Western Pacific region’s tally stood at 1,92,335 confirmed cases and 7,121 deaths. South-East Asia region recorded 3,78,118 confirmed cases and 10,376 deaths and African region witnessed 1,40,498 confirmed cases and 3,352 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.

More than 7 million cases of COVID-19 and over 400 000 deaths have now been reported to WHO. Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it is worsening. On Sunday, more than 1,36 000 cases were reported, the most in a single day so far. In countries seeing positive signs, the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned in his media briefing yesterday “the biggest threat now is complacency.”

The WHO Regional Office for the Americas has published a guide with recommendations on measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission among indigenous populations, Afro-descendants, and other ethnic groups. The recommendations focus on promoting hygiene, social distancing, and improving access to basic health services in these communities.

WHO fully supports equality and the global movement against racism. It encourages all those protesting around the world to do so safely: as much as possible, keep at least 1 metre from others, clean your hands, cover your cough and wear a mask if you attend a protest.

WHO has published 14 new community and risk engagement posters on parenting during the pandemic. Some of the topics that these posters cover include: learning through play, keeping calm and managing stress, keeping children safe online, family budgeting in times of financial stress, and talking about COVID-19.

“Yesterday marked World Food Safety Day. Food safety is everyone’s business, every day.

In times of crisis, it’s more important than ever. We want to thank those who have continued to ensure that people can access safe food throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO is proud to work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in ensuring all people have access to safe, nutritious food for healthy living,” the Director-General said in his media briefing.

“Almost 7 million cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, and almost 400,000 deaths.  Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally it is worsening. More than 100,000 cases have been reported on 9 of the past 10 days. Yesterday, more than 136,000 cases were reported, the most in a single day so far. Almost 75 percent of yesterday’s cases come from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia,” he observed.

“Most countries in the African region are still experiencing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, with some reporting cases in new geographic areas, although most countries in the region have less than 1000 cases. We also see increasing numbers of cases in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” he pointed out.

“At the same time, we’re encouraged that several countries around the world are seeing positive signs. In these countries, the biggest threat now is complacency. Results from studies to see how much of the population has been exposed to the virus show that most people globally are still susceptible to infection. We continue to urge active surveillance to ensure the virus does not rebound, especially as mass gatherings of all kinds are starting to resume in some countries,” he added.

“WHO fully supports equality and the global movement against racism. We reject discrimination of all kinds. We encourage all those protesting around the world to do so safely.  As much as possible, keep at least 1 metre from others, clean your hands, cover your cough and wear a mask if you attend a protest. We remind all people to stay home if you are sick and contact a health care provider.

“We also encourage countries to strengthen the fundamental public health measures that remain the basis of the response: find, isolate, test and care for every case, and trace and quarantine every contact.

“Contact tracing remains an essential element of the response. In some countries, there is already a strong network of health workers for polio who are now being deployed for COVID-19. Last week we published guidance that describes how existing polio surveillance networks can be used in the COVID-19 response, and outlines the measures that should be put in place to maintain an effective level of surveillance for polio.

“WHO has also published new guidelines on the use of digital tools for contact tracing. Many digital tools have been developed to assist with contact tracing and case identification. Some are designed for use by public health personnel, like WHO’s Go.Data application, which has been used successfully to trace contacts during the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC. Others use GPS or Bluetooth technology to identify those who may have been exposed to an infected person. And still others can be used by people to self-report signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

“As part of a comprehensive approach, digital contact-tracing tools offer the opportunity to trace larger numbers of contacts in a shorter period of time, and to provide a real-time picture of the spread of the virus. But they can also pose challenges to privacy, lead to incorrect medical advice based on self-reported symptoms, and can exclude those who do not have access to modern digital technologies.

“More evidence is needed about the effectiveness of these tools for contact tracing. We encourage countries to gather this evidence as they roll out these tools, and to contribute that evidence to the global knowledge base. We also emphasise that digital tools do not replace the human capacity needed to do contact tracing. Starting tomorrow, WHO is convening an online consultation on contact tracing for COVID-19, to share technical and operational experience on contact tracing, including innovations in digital technology.

“As part of our commitment to coordinating the global response, WHO is also running the COVID-19 Partners Platform, an online tool that enables countries to match needs with resources. This online tool enables countries to enter planned activities for which they need support, and donors to match their contributions to these activities. So far, 105 national plans have been uploaded, and 56 donors have entered their contributions, totalling US$3.9 billion.

“The platform also includes the COVID-19 Supply Portal, enabling countries to request critical supplies of diagnostics, protective equipment and other essential medical provisions. So far, WHO has shipped more than 5 million items of personal protective equipment to 110 countries. We are now in the process of shipping more than 129 million items of PPE to 126 countries.  More than six months into this pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal. This is the time for countries to continue to work hard, on the basis of science, solutions and solidarity,” the WHO Director-General explained. (eom)

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