WHO COVID-19 Daily Briefing! Containment As Option
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus (World Health Organization [WHO] Director-General), Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove (Technical Lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme), and Dr. Michael J. Ryan (Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme) met with journalists earlier this morning to report on the newest developments surrounding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Infectious Disease, 2019). Parts of the opening statements from Dr. Tedros are below.
In the past 24 hours, China reported 329 cases – the lowest in more than a month. As of 6 AM Geneva time this morning, China has reported a total of 78,959 cases of COVID-19 to WHO, including 2791 deaths. Outside China, there are now 4351 cases in 49 countries and 67 deaths.
Since yesterday, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands, and Nigeria have all reported their first cases. All these cases have links to Italy. 24 cases have been exported from Italy to 14 countries, and 97 cases have been exported from Iran to 11 countries.
Dr. Tedros would continue speaking on how countries could help combat COVID-19, and the vaccines currently being developed, hoping to find a cure for the disease.
…The report includes a wealth of information, and 22 recommendations for China, for affected and unaffected countries, for the international community, and the general public. It calls for all countries to educate their populations, to expand surveillance, to find, isolate and care for every case, to trace every contact, and to take an all-of-government and all-of-society approach – this is not a job for the health ministry alone.
At the same time, work is also progressing on vaccines and therapeutics. More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials. We expect the first results in a few weeks.
Dr. Kerkhove stressed that WHO recommendations for combating COVID-19 are the same for every country regardless of the weather conditions when answering a journalist question. She would add that she didn’t believe there was any reason to believe the virus will act differently in differing climates. “The virus can be curved if significant measures are taken,” Dr. Ryan said to the same question.
“An area of active investigation,” Dr. Kerhove answered when addressing whether an origin of the virus has been identified. She detailed that there isn’t any evidence from the Wuhan (China) markets of the virus being linked to animals in the area. “We need to be careful in the language we use,” Dr. Ryan added when detailing journalists and the media at large should not subscribe blame to a geographical region or animal. His only goal is to defeat the virus and avoiding gaslighting stigma.
Dr. Ryan later said that the COVID-19 outbreak is nowhere near a global pandemic, which he defined as meaning the world would be exposed to the virus in a certain period. He also stressed we must get beyond the colloquial usage of words, as we are nowhere near a pandemic with COVID-19, but remain in an epidemic.
“Let’s use a comprehensive approach,” Dr. Tedros said when responding to a question regarding if WHO suggests moving from containment to a mitigation state approach with the virus. Dr. Tedros stressed that with only around 4,500 cases in over 46 countries, there isn’t a reason to give up on containment. “As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this Coronavirus, if robust action is taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts,” Dr. Tedros continued.