Coronavirus: Prepare for containment, surveillance – WHO warns countries
World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised all countries to prepare for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of Coronavirus.
The WHO Emergency Committee gave the advice on Thursday after two days meeting held in Geneva to deliberate whether coronavirus was a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) or not.
In a statement, the UN health agency, declared that Novel Coronavirus was not yet an official PHEIC but said countries should expect that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country.
“Countries should place particular emphasis on reducing human infection, prevention of secondary transmission and international spread.
“They should also place emphasis on contributing to the international response though multi-sectoral communication and collaboration and active participation in increasing knowledge on the virus and the disease, as well as advancing research.’’
According to the statement, the disease has spread rapidly to several countries including Japan, Singapore and the USA.
Director-General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus said the outbreak poses a “very high risk” in China as well as regionally and globally; there’s still a lot we do not know.
“We know that among those infected, one quarter of patients have experienced severe disease and that it can kill.
“We know that most of those who have died had underlying health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease that weakened their immune systems.
“We know that there is human-to-human transmission in China, but for now it appears limited to family groups and health workers caring for infected patients.
“At this time there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission outside China, but that doesn’t mean it would not happen,” he said.
He said that as of Thursday evening, 584 cases had been reported to WHO, including 17 deaths; the vast majority of cases (575) had been reported in China.
Cases have also been reported in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam, with further possible cases being investigated in other countries; among them, the United Kingdom.
The WHO chief acknowledged that there were still many unknown factors: “We don’t know the source of this virus.
“We do not understand how easily it spreads and we don’t fully understand its clinical features or severity. WHO is working with our partners night and day in China and the other affected countries at the regional level, and here at headquarters, to fill the gaps in our knowledge as quickly as possible,” he said.
The WHO chief warned that the agency’s decision should not be taken as a sign that it is doing nothing: “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.
“At a country, regional and global level, we’re working to prevent human to human transmission.
“We have provided guidance to all countries for the rapid identification, management and containment of the virus based on the sequence we’ve got from China”.
“We’re coordinating our networks of global experts. We’re working to advance the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. We are completely committed,’’ he said. (NAN)