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Anxious WHO implores world to ‘do it all’ in long war on COVID-19

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(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)

The World Health Organization warned on Monday that there might never be a “silver bullet” for COVID-19 in the form of a perfect vaccine and that the road to normality would be long, with some countries requiring a reset of strategy.

Reuters reported that more than 18.14 million people around the world are reported to have been infected with the disease and 688,080​ have died, according to a Reuters tally, with some nations that thought they were over the worst experiencing a resurgence.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO emergencies head Mike Ryan exhorted nations to rigorously enforce health measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, and testing.

“The message to people and governments is clear: ‘Do it all’,” Tedros told a virtual news briefing from the U.N. body’s headquarters in Geneva. He said face masks should become a symbol of solidarity around the world.

“A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment – and there might never be.”

The WHO head said that, while the coronavirus was the biggest health emergency since the early 20th century, the international scramble for a vaccine was also “unprecedented”.

But he underscored uncertainties. “There are concerns that we may not have a vaccine that may work or its protection could be for just a few months, not more. But until we finish the clinical trials, we will not know.”

“THE WAY OUT IS LONG”

Ryan said countries with high transmission rates, including Brazil and India, needed to brace for a big battle: “The way out is long and requires a sustained commitment,” he said, calling for a “reset” of approach in some places.

“Some countries are really going to have to take a step back now and really take a look at how they are addressing the pandemic within their national borders,” he added.

Asked about the U.S. outbreak, which White House coronavirus experts say is entering a “new phase”, he said officials seemed to have set out the “right path” and it was not the WHO’s job to do so.

The WHO officials said an advance investigation team had concluded its China mission and laid out the groundwork for further efforts to identify the origins of the virus.

The study is one of the demands made by top donor the United States which plans to leave the body next year, accusing it of being too acquiescent to China.

A larger, WHO-led team of Chinese and international experts is planned next, including in the city of Wuhan, although the timing and composition of that were unclear. Ryan said China had already given some information but knowledge gaps remained.

COVID-19

UN calls for global action against spread of COVID-19 misinformation

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2020)

The United Nations and its partners have called on countries to take urgent action to address what they describe as the “infodemic” around the COVID-19 pandemic and put in place national action plans to promote science-based health information.

In a statement issued by the UN on Thursday, the organization said the pandemic is the first in history in which technology and social media are being used to both inform people and keep them connected but also to undermine global response to the crisis and jeopardize measures to contain the disease.

“WHO and partners are calling on all countries to put in place national action plans to promote science-based health information and to combat misinformation.

They also called on the media, tech companies, civil society, researchers and people everywhere to keep the infodemic from spreading”.

“Misinformation costs lives. Without the appropriate trust and correct information, diagnostic tests go unused, immunization campaigns (or campaigns to promote effective vaccines) will not meet their targets, and the virus will continue to thrive”, the partners said in a statement. 

“We call on Member States to develop and implement action plans to manage the infodemic by promoting the timely dissemination of accurate information, based on science and evidence, to all communities, and in particular high-risk groups; and preventing the spread, and combating, mis- and disinformation while respecting freedom of expression.” 

Authorities also were urged to empower communities to develop solutions and resilience against the infodemic. 

Stakeholders such as the media and social media platforms were called on to collaborate with the UN system, and each other, “to further strengthen their actions to disseminate accurate information and prevent the spread of mis- and disinformation.” 

 

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India’s COVID-19 tally surges past 5.4 million mark

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

India’s COVID-19 infection tally has surged past the 5.4 million mark after adding 92,605 cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry stated Sunday. 

Every day, since August, the country has recorded the highest single-day caseload in the world. 

According to the health ministry, 1,113 people died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 86,752. 

Infection is surging through the country on a “step-ladder spiral” a government scientist told BBC. 

It took India 170 days to reach the first million cases but only 11 days to reach the last million. 

More than 50 million Indians have been tested so far for the virus, and more than a million samples are being tested daily, BBC reported but stated the country still has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.

According to the report, epidemiologists have said that India’s real infection rates are far higher.

The government’s own antibody tests on a random sample of people nationwide estimated 6.4 million infections in early May, as compared to the recorded case count of 52,000 at that time. 

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India’s COVID-19 infection rate continues to surge, over 5 million cases reported

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(Last Updated On: September 17, 2020)

India reported another record jump in daily coronavirus cases on Thursday with 97,894 new infections in the last 24 hours, after its caseload surged past the five million mark a day earlier, data from the health ministry showed. 

Deaths also increased, with the country recording more than 1,000 deaths every day for the last two weeks.

Coronavirus infections in India surged past five million on Wednesday, with one million active cases reported. 

India’s caseload is closing in on the US, which has reported more than 6.6 million cases and with the infection rate continuing as it is, health officials have warned that it could take just weeks for India to surpass the US. 

In the initial stages of Covid-19, India imposed a strict lockdown, but the virus then hit cities like Mumbai and the capital, Delhi, before surging in smaller cities and rural areas.

Despite the increase, the Indian government has eased restrictions to help the economy recover from the March to June lockdown. 

But as India opened up and people returned to work, the caseload increased drastically. 

In one week alone – last week – 600,000 new cases were added. 

India’s reported number of cases is now more than 5,020,359.

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