Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID – 19): WHO Update (20 April 2020)

The daily press briefing on coronavirus COVID-19, direct from WHO Headquarters, Geneva Switzerland with Dr Tedros WHO Director-General, Dr Micheal Ryan, Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme, and Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead, Health Emergencies Programme.

On “start lifting the so-called lockdown restrictions,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus reemphasized that “easing restrictions is not the end of epidemic in any country. Ending the epidemic will require a sustained effort on the part of individuals, communities, and governments to continue suppressing and controlling this deadly virus.”

Speaking to reporters at a virtual press conference today (20 Apr), Tedros noted that one of WHO’s priorities is to work with partners to increase the production and equitable distribution of diagnostics to the countries that need them most.

According to WHO, the Organization has worked with FIND, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, to identify and validate five tests that can be manufactured in large quantities.

Tedros said, ‘working together with the Global Fund, UNICEF and Unitaid, we have now placed orders for 30 million tests over the next four months.”

He also stated, “solidarity flights continue to ship lifesaving medical supplies across Africa to protect health workers, who are on the frontlines in the effort to save lives and slow the pandemic.”

Over the past week, WHO has been working closely with the World Food Programme to deliver masks, goggles, test kits, face shields and other medical equipment to 40 countries.

Tedros said, “this is part of the overarching drive to keep supply chains moving and ensure key supplies reach 120 priority countries. Through April and May we intend to ship almost 180 million surgical masks, 54 million N95 masks and more than 3 million protective goggles to countries that need them most.”

WHO’s Michael Ryan said, “we would obviously like to thank our colleagues in Taiwan for having shared an interesting report for which we were receiving similar reports from other sources. At no point in the process of communication, in this email received, was there any reference to human, to human transmission, or any other issue, It was purely requesting relevant information and thanking us in advance for our attention to the matter.”

Tedros also said, “the email we received from Taiwan is to get more clarification on the issue. Based on China’s report. So the report first came from China. That’s number one fact, from Wuhan itself. Second, the email from Taiwan, like other entities was to ask for clarification, nothing else.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, a technical lead at WHO said, “I think initially, you know, with some of these early studies, we see a lower proportion of people with measured antibodies then than we were expecting, I think. And it indicates that a lower number of people are actually infected. And so I think before we go too much into detail into what this means, I think we need to have a better understanding of how all these studies were done. And to put these into context over a large number of studies across multiple countries.”

On vaccination, Michael Ryan said, “we’re very good at delivering vaccines in children as a global health architecture, we’re not very good at delivering vaccines in other than children, in adults. Secondly, we have to be sure the communities are fully on board. Actually, we’ve seen a lot of problems with vaccine acceptance.”

He continued, “so when we look right along the value chain of vaccine development, we’re very focused on the product development. And that’s very important. But there are whole ranges of things that need to be done downstream to make the use, the scale up, allocation and use of any product, successful in public health terms and all along the way, we have to keep safety and efficacy in mind.”

In This Story: Covid-19

Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

Symptoms of coronavirus

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
  • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
  • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

Latest News about Covid-19

Below are stories from around the globe related to the 2020 outbreak of novel Coronavirus – since the WHO gave the Covid-19 naming. Most recent items are posted nearest the top.

  • Trump adviser says going back to school ‘not that hard’
  • ABC News Prime: Tropical Storm Fay path, COVID-19 in U.S, Trump rally in N. Hampshire cancelled
  • ‘Unknown pneumonia’ in Kazakhstan could be COVID-19: WHO
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