#UN; #Vietnam; #covid19response
Viet Nam/UN, Aug 29 (Canadian-Media): Whilst no country can claim to have beaten COVID-19, some countries have been noticeably more effective in curbing the spread of the disease. Kamal Malhotra, the UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, explains why the country’s response to the pandemic has been so successful.
The UN Development Programme donated 20,000 surgical masks to Viet Nam’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to help protect vital healthcare workers from COVID-19. Image credit: UNDP Viet Nam/Nguyen Khanh
“Despite a new wave which began on 25 July which Viet Nam is now also in the process of bringing under effective control, it is globally recognized that Viet Nam demonstrated one of the world’s most successful responses to the COVID-19 pandemic between January and April 16. After that date, no cases of local transmission were recorded for 99 consecutive days.
There were less than 400 cases of infection across the country during that period, most of them imported, and zero deaths, a remarkable accomplishment considering the country’s population of 96 million people and the fact that it shares a 1,450 km land border with China."
Long-term planning pays off
Viet Nam’s success has drawn international attention because of its early, proactive, response, led by the government, and involving the whole political system, and all aspects of the society. With the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, Viet Nam had already put a long-term plan in place, to enable it to cope with public health emergencies, building on its experience dealing with previous disease outbreaks, such as SARS, which it also handled remarkably well.
Viet Nam’s successful management of the COVID-19 outbreak so far can, therefore, be at least partly put down to the its investment during “peacetime”. The country has now demonstrated that preparedness to deal with infectious disease is a key ingredient for protecting people and securing public health in times of pandemics such as COVID-19.
As early as January 2020, Viet Nam conducted its first risk assessment, immediately after the identification of a cluster of cases of “severe pneumonia with unknown etiology” in Wuhan, China. From the time that the first two COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Viet Nam in the second half of January 2020, the government started to put precautionary measures into effect by strengthening entry-screening measures and extending the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday for schools.
By 13 February 2020, the number of cases had climbed to 16 with limited local transmission detected in a village near the capital city, Hanoi. As this had the potential to cause a further spread of the virus in Viet Nam, the country implemented a targeted three-week village-wide quarantine, affecting 11,000 people. There were then no further local cases for three weeks.
But Viet Nam had simultaneously developed its broader quarantine and isolation policy to control COVID-19. As the next wave began in early March, through an imported case from the UK, the government knew that it was crucial to contain virus transmission as fast as possible, in order also to safeguard its economy.
Viet Nam therefore closed its borders and suspended international flights from mainland China in February, extending this to UK, Europe, the US and then the rest of the world progressively in March, whilst requiring all travelers entering the country, including its nationals, to undergo 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival.
This helped the authorities keep track of imported cases of COVID-19 and prevent further local transmission which could have then led to wider community transmission. Both the military and local governments were mobilized to provide testing, meals and amenity services to all quarantine facilities which remained free during this period.
No lockdown required
While there was never a nationwide lockdown, some restrictive physical distancing measures were implemented throughout the country. On 1 April 2020, the Prime Minister issued a nationwide two week physical distancing directive, which was extended by a week in major cities and hotspots: people were advised to stay at home, non-essential businesses were requested to close, and public transportation was limited.
Such measures were so successful that, by early May, following two weeks without a locally confirmed case, schools and businesses resumed their operations and people could return to regular routines. Green One UN House, the home of most UN agencies in Viet Nam, remained open throughout this period, with the Resident Coordinator, WHO Representative and approximately 200 UN staff and consultants physically in the office throughout this period, to provide vital support to the Government and people of Viet Nam.
Notably, the Vietnamese public had been exceptionally compliant with government directives and advice, partly as a result of trust built up thanks to real time, transparent communication from the Ministry of Health, supported by the WHO and other UN agencies.
Innovative methods were used to keep the public informed and safe. For instance, regular text updates were sent by the Ministry of Health, on preventive measures and COVID-19’s symptoms. A COVID-19 song was released, with lyrics raising public awareness of the disease, which later went viral on social media with a dance challenge on Tik Tok initiated by Quang Dang, a local celebrity.
#WHO; #BloodPlasma; #Covid19; #FDA
The World Health Organization warns using plasma recovered from the blood of patients who've recovered from COVID-19 remains an experimental treatment, highlighting the need for better data including that from a large trial underway in Canada.
Image: Blood Plasma. Image credit: Unsplash
Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency approval to expand the use of plasma to help patients hospitalized with COVID-19 after President Donald Trump appeared to apply political pressure on the agency via Twitter.
Supporters of the treatment say plasma from recovered patients can help current COVID-19 patients at the start of their illness because the plasma contains the immune system's protective antibodies that work specifically against this virus. WHO's chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said Monday the data isn't convincing enough to endorse its widespread use.
#Manitoba; #Covid19NewCases; #increaseInCovidcases
Manitoba (ON), Aug 22 (Canadian-Media): Manitoba recorded Forty-two new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, province's highest single-day increase in new cases of the illness, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 290, media reports said.
Image: Manitoba. Image credit: Unsplash
Previously on April 2 and again on Aug 14, Manitoba had recorded 40 new cases.
The province did not say whether the new cases in the region announced Saturday are linked to a cluster.
The test positivity rate wen down slightly from two percent on Friday to 1.8 percent representing a rolling five-day average of the percentage of COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba that come back positive for the illness.
To date, there have been 872 cases of COVID-19 identified in Manitoba and 570 people have recovered.
Opening of a new test site in Winnipeg is in process and remain open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
With 1,849 tests for the illness being conducted in Manitoba, the total number done in the province since early February is 124,140.
People are again being advised by the public health officials to get tested for COVID-19 only symptoms of the illness are obvious and to do it as soon as possible once those symptoms appear.
#UN; #UNICEF; #Covid19; #PolioFight, #Pakistan
UN, Aug 22 (Canadian-Media): Despite suffering the after-effects of the COVID-19 virus, Husna Gul, a staff member with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Pakistan, is committed to ensuring that as many children as possible are vaccinated against the devastating consequences of polio, which can cause muscle-wasting, paralysis and death.
Husna Gul, a staff member with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Pakistan.
Image credit:© UNICEF Pakistan/S. Mahar
UNICEF has restarted vaccination campaigns in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last two countries in the world where polio is endemic, following a hiatus imposed by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restart has been accompanied by new guidelines, to help ensure the safety of patients, and health workers.
In an interview with UN News, Ms. Gul described how she and her colleagues reacted to the arrival of COVID-19 in Pakistan, and why she continues to put herself at risk.
“I have been aware of the importance of vaccination from an early age. I remember my mother telling me and my siblings that we must complete our vaccinations. She would tell us how harmful polio is, and how we could be paralysed if we caught it.
From the beginning of my career with UNICEF, though, I have been confronted with people who were very resistant to the idea of vaccination. In more isolated communities, in particular, there are many misconceptions about vaccines. Some people think that the vaccine will make them infertile, or that it is a Western conspiracy. Sometimes we would be subject to abuse, or even physical attacks.
So, I am used to risk, but the beginning of the pandemic was, nevertheless, a very unsettling time for me and my colleagues. In Karachi, where I’m based, lockdown began on 22 March. Our office gave us 10 days leave and told us to stay at home. But, after returning to work, I caught COVID-19.
I was then quarantined and became very weak. I had headaches, fever and shortness of breath. My family were very concerned by my condition and, eventually, they took me to the hospital.
Thanks to Allah, I survived, but I am not completely recovered, and my body is still weak. I have swollen feet, and if I walk for more than 10 minutes, I will find myself sweating, and out of breath.
Despite this, I went back to work. We are health workers: our job is to take care of other people’s children, by vaccinating as many of them as possible. Yes, COVID-19 is dangerous, but polio is still endemic in this country. We have to focus on both these diseases.
As for my own personal safety, I am a little afraid, but I think that I will be okay if I follow the standard procedures: wear gloves and a face mask, use hand sanitizer, and make sure that I frequently wash my hands.
The lockdown has had some very serious consequences. Children’s health is definitely being put at risk due the pandemic. A friend of mine, for example, has a child who is nearly two years old, and she has been too scared to go to the hospital to complete her child’s polio vaccinations.
And we are seeing the negative effects that the lockdown is having on the wider community: many people have lost their jobs, and have been asking us for ration provisions, and other health services. Sometimes we have received abuse. Last year, before the pandemic, we had seen some real improvements in the ways that the community responded to us. But now, we are worried that their resistance to us, and our programme, may be increasing.
But this doesn’t put me off. We know that we have the support of many people, including political leaders, and other influential members of the community, and it gives me inner happiness to know that I am helping my country, as part of a national cause.”
#UN; #Covid19; #GlobalHealth
United Nations (UN), Aug 18 (Canadian-Media): With several countries experiencing fresh COVID-19 outbreaks after periods of little or no transmission, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday highlighted the need for authorities to be able to move quickly to prevent further spread of the disease.
A health worker provides COVID-19 information to a patient visiting the Jerusalem Health Center. Image credit: UNRWA/Louise Wateridge
These nations provide a cautionary tale because they show how “progress does not mean victory”, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his latest update on the crisis.
“That’s why it’s vital that countries are able to quickly identify and prevent clusters, to prevent community transmission and the possibility of new restrictions,” he told journalists.
Cases top 22 million Globally, there are now more than 22 million cases of COVID-19, and 780,000 deaths. Meanwhile, the number of people requiring hospitalization remains high, the WHO chief reported.
“No country can just ride this out until we have a vaccine,” he warned.
“A vaccine will be a vital tool, and we hope that we will have one as soon as possible. But there’s no guarantee that we will, and even if we do have a vaccine, it won’t end the pandemic on its own.”
Mr. Tedros underlined WHO’s commitment to countries as they work towards the safe re-opening of their economies, societies, schools and businesses.
A tale of two pandemics The WHO chief also expressed hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be defeated in under two years, or less time than it took to end the Spanish Flu pandemic, through global solidarity and the use of vaccines.
Mr. Tedros was responding to a journalist’s question about similarities between the two crises.
The 1918 influenza pandemic lasted from February 1918 to April 2020.
Mr. Tedros pointed out that while the “disadvantage” of globalization means the new coronavirus can spread faster, people today have the “advantage” of technology and knowledge.
“So, we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts together, and with national unity, global solidarity – that’s really key – with utilizing the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu,” he said.
PPE-related corruption is ‘murder’ Corruption that deprives frontline health workers of personal protective equipment (PPE) is “murder”, Dr. Tedros unequivocally stated on Friday.
He was responding to a journalist’s question about health professionals in some nations going on strike because they lack appropriate PPE, amid reports of government corruption related to COVID-19 funds.
“Any level of corruption is unacceptable, or any type of corruption is unacceptable. However, corruption related to PPE, lifesaving, for me it’s actually murder,” he said.
“Because if health workers work without PPE, we are risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve. So, it’s criminal, and it’s a murder, and it has to stop if it is happening anywhere.”
Speaking earlier in the briefing, WHO’s Dr. Michael Ryan highlighted how the pandemic has shown both the best and worst of humanity.
“Certainly, corruption is something that is not new to this world. And at this point, it’s really, really, important that governments govern and that we see very clear, transparent action by governments,” he said.
While authorities must ensure that health workers are properly equipped and receive their salaries, protests should not occur at the expense of the health and wellbeing of patients, said Dr. Ryan, Executive Director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme.
Upcoming guidance on masks for children WHO and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, are set to issue guidance on the use of masks by children.
The UN agencies will provide advice for public health officials, child health professionals, educators and others about making the decision on where and when masks should be worn.
Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist and WHO lead on COVID-19, said research continues into how the disease affects children as understanding about virus transmission among this population is limited.
Although children of all ages can be infected, the majority tend to develop mild disease. However, children have developed severe disease, and some have died.
DRC Ebola outbreak ‘concerning’ WHO is urging support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the Government is seeking $40 million to fight an Ebola outbreak which emerged in Equateur province in early June.
Ebola has spread to 11 of the 17 health zones of the province, located in the west of the country.
As of Thursday, there were 100 cases and 43 deaths.
“With 100 Ebola cases in less than 100 days, the outbreak in Equateur Province is evolving in a concerning way,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions and with COVID-19 draining resources and attention, it is hard to scale-up operations.”
WHO said a strike by health workers has further complicated the situation, as it has affected vaccinations, safe burials and other activities.
The UN agency and its partners continue to support the DRC Government, including by helping to screen more than 640,000 people for the disease.
#UN; #DigitalEvent; #FightAgainstCovid19;
Geneva/UN, Aug 15 (Canadian-Media): The first-of-its-kind televised and digitally streamed Pacific Unite: Saving Lives Together concert called on regional leaders and citizens to unite in the global fight against COVID-19, the United Nations said on Saturday.
From across the region, the UN in the Pacific brought together artists UN leaders, heads of State and international celebrities in the world’s first regional COVID-19 concert.
“I’m very proud to be part of this historic event”, said Tofiga Fepulea’i, who hosted the concert in character as the popular television persona ‘Aunty Tala’. “Now is the time for us to come together, to celebrate the strength and solutions that are possible when the Pacific unites”.
The two-and-a-half-hour show featured contributions from 12 Pacific island nations, including musical performances from Jahboy of the Solomon Islands, Mia Kami of Tonga, Juny B of Kiribati, Te Vaka of New Zealand and many more.
“This is the first ever virtual concert to comprise primarily of artists from across the region and be accessible to audiences not only in the Pacific but around the world”, Ms. Fepulea’i added.
Moreover, videos messages of solidarity were delivered from international guests, such as the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles, Oscar-winning actor and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) advocate Forest Whitaker, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The virtual concert provided a platform for the geographically remote Pacific region to connect. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed reinforced the message that working together is the only way to overcome COVID-19.
“Much remains to be done, and no one person, island or country can do it alone,” she said in her video remarks.
The UN deputy chief highlighted the responsibility of the global community to come together to help “our small island neighbours” respond to the pandemic by ensuring equitable access to vital medical equipment, supplies and – when they become available – vaccines.
She noted that the global community must also help the hard-hit economies of small island developing States through debt relief and rapid support that stimulates inclusive and resilient growth.
“Let us keep standing together to fight the virus. Let’s say no to violence, no to discrimination, no to stigma, no to vicious misinformation,” she urged. “And let’s say yes to solidarity, yes to compassion, caring for each other in the Pacific way.”
Already among the most remote countries on earth, Pacific island states saw their vital economic links weakened with the evaporation of tourism, severe disruptions to international trade, and a reduction in remittances.
The virtual concert brought attention to the multidimensional impacts of the pandemic, including a rise in domestic violence, unemployment, food insecurity, and mental health issues.
Speakers reinforced the need to build back better by creating a sustainable Pacific that is resilient to the impacts of climate change.
“This new normal should not be the same old story, but with face masks,” said President of Palau, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr, in his video message. “The Pacific has been pushing for big changes in travel, in tourism, in fishing, in plastic use and in energy production. In a strange way, COVID-19 has cleared paths to those objectives. If we manage this challenge the right way, we can build a stronger system than we had before.”
Reach and reception
UN Web TV broadcast the virtual concert on radio and television networks in 12 Pacific island countries, as well as in Australia and New Zealand, throughout Asia, and globally. And it was captioned for people who are deaf or have hearing impairments.
“In the Pacific, we love our music, and to hear from our leaders across the region, and our friends, on how to cope and be safe, and how to ensure that we are living in the new normal, I think it is timely”, said Pacific Disability Forum CEO Setareki Macanawai.
Watching on Facebook, law student at the University of the South Pacific’s Emalus Campus in Vanuatu Louisa Movick, believes in the healing powers of music.
“In these difficult times with so many mixed emotions in the air, it is good to take a moment, breathe and listen to the music of our Pacific region through these artists”, she said.
The final act
The concert closed with a moving performance of a song called “We Will Rise”, written about the coronavirus pandemic in the Pacific and performed by Pasifika Voices and the International School Suva.
Sung primarily by children and youth, the heart-warming lyrics concluded on a note of hope.
“Around the world we’re closing borders, COVID-19 on the rise
A new world order behind closed doors, the storm will pass, we will survive
We will rise, we will rise again, our isles will rise again
We will rise, we will rise again, our world will rise again”
The South Pacific archipelago of Tuvalu is highly susceptible to rises in sea level brought about by climate change. Image credit: UNDP/Luke McPake
#Scotland; #motivation; #neuroscience
Edinburgh (Scotland), Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): There is no question that motivation is one of the hardest and yet important factors in life. It's the difference between success and failure, goal-setting and aimlessness, well-being and unhappiness. And yet, why is it so hard to get motivated? Or even if we do, to keep it up? University of Edinburgh has answered this.
Image credit: Public Domain
That is the question that scientists led by Professor Carmen Sandi at EPFL and Dr. Gedi Luksys at the University of Edinburgh have sought to answer. Previous studies have demonstrated two things: First, that people differ a lot in their capacity to engage in motivated behavior and that motivational problems like apathy are common in neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Second, that an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens was a likely target for motivated behavior.
Sitting close to the bottom of brain, the nucleus accumbens has been the subject of much research, as studies have found it to be a major player in functions like aversion, reward, reinforcement and motivation. To test and quantify motivation, the EPFL team designed what is known as a monetary incentive force task. The idea is that participants perform a task with increasing and measurable effort and receive sums of money that correspond to their effort. Basically, do more and get paid more.
In this study, 43 men were scanned to measure metabolites in the nucleus accumbens via a sophisticated brain-imaging technique called proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or 1H-MRS. This can specifically measure the abundance of neurochemicals in the brain, such as neurotransmitters and metabolites. Because of this, 1H-MRS is used in clinical settings to determine neurological disorders.
Illustration of the hand-grip force exertion task. In the experiment, participants were first asked to squeeze the grip at their maximal force or capacity. Then, during task performance, in each trial, they had to squeeze it up to a force threshold of 50% of their maximal voluntary contraction and maintained at that force for another 3 seconds in order to earn the particular monetary incentive ascribed to each trial. The task consisted of 80 consecutive trials. Credit: João Rodrigues (EPFL)Subsequently, each participant was asked to squeeze a device that measures force—a dynamometer to a given level of contraction in order to earn either 0.2, 0.5, or one Swiss franc. This procedure was repeated for a number of 120 consecutive trials, which made performance in the task quite demanding.
The idea of the experiment was that the sums would push participants to decide if they were going to invest energy and perform the task accordingly at each trial. The scientists also ran the experiment under isolation and group conditions to investigate the influence of competition on performance.
Once they had gathered the behavioral data, the researchers processed it through a computational model that estimated the most appropriate parameters that should be measured with regard to utility, effort, and performance functions. This allowed them to interrogate whether particular neurotransmitter levels predicted specific motivational functions.
The analysis revealed that the key to performance—and, by extension, motivation—lies within the ratio of two neurotransmitters in the nucleus accumbens: glutamine and glutamate. Specifically, the ratio of glutamine to glutamate relates to our capacity for maintaining performance over a long period of time—what the researchers term stamina.
Another discovery was that competition seems to boost performance, even from the beginning of the task. This was especially the case for individuals with low glutamine-to-glutamate ratios in the nucleus accumbens.
"The findings provide novel insights in the field of motivation neuroscience," says Carmen Sandi. "They show that the balance between glutamine and glutamate can help predict specific, computational components of motivated performance. Our approach and data can also help us develop therapeutic strategies, including nutritional interventions, that address deficits in effort engagement by targeting metabolism."
#Yoga; #NYUGrossmanSchoolOfMedicine; #Relaxation; #AnxietyDisorder
New York, Aug 12 (Canadian-Media): Yoga improves symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, a condition with chronic nervousness and worry, suggesting the popular practice may be helpful in treating anxiety in some people, a study led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine said.
Yoga. Image credit: Unsplash
The study found that yoga was significantly more effective for generalized anxiety disorder than standard education on stress management, but not effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the gold standard form of structured talk therapy that helps patients identify negative thinking for better responses to challenges.
"Generalized anxiety disorder is a very common condition, yet many are not willing or able to access evidence-based treatments," says lead study author Naomi M. Simon, MD, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. "Our findings demonstrate that yoga, which is safe and widely available, can improve symptoms for some people with this disorder and could be a valuable tool in an overall treatment plan."
For the study, publishing online Aug. 12 in JAMA Psychiatry, 226 men and women with generalized anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to three groups—either CBT, Kundalini yoga, or stress-management education, a standardized control technique.
After three months, both CBT and yoga were found to be significantly more effective for anxiety than stress management. Specifically, 54 percent of those who practiced yoga met response criteria for meaningfully improved symptoms compared to 33 percent in the stress-education group. Of those treated with CBT, 71 percent met these symptom improvement criteria.
However, after six months of follow-up, the CBT response remained significantly better than stress education (the control therapy), while yoga was no longer significantly better, suggesting CBT may have more robust, longer-lasting anxiety-reducing effects.
The study involved an evidence-based protocol for CBT treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, including psychoeducation, cognitive interventions (focused on identifying and adapting maladaptive thoughts and worrying), and muscle relaxation techniques.
Kundalini yoga included physical postures, breathing techniques, relaxation exercises, yoga theory, and meditation/mindfulness practice.
The stress-management education control group received lectures about the physiological, psychological and medical effects of stress, as well as the antianxiety effects of lifestyle behaviors, such as reducing alcohol and smoking, and the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. Homework consisted of listening to educational material about stress, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Each treatment was administered in groups of three to six participants, over weekly two-hour sessions for 12 weeks with 20 minutes of daily homework assigned.
Can Yoga Help Treat Anxiety?
According to researchers, generalized anxiety disorder is a common, impairing, and undertreated condition, currently affecting an estimated 6.8 million Americans. While most people feel anxious from time to time, it is considered a disorder when worrying becomes excessive and interferes with day-to-day life. CBT is considered the gold standard first-line treatment. Medications, including antidepressants and sometimes benzodiazepines, may also be used. Yet, not everyone is willing to take medication which can have adverse side effects and there are challenges with accessing CBT for many, including lack of access to trained therapists and long waitlists.
"Many people already seek complementary and alternative interventions, including yoga, to treat anxiety," says Dr. Simon. "This study suggests that at least short-term there is significant value for people with generalized anxiety disorder to give yoga a try to see if it works for them. Yoga is well-tolerated, easily accessible, and has a number of health benefits."
According to Dr. Simon, future research should aim to understand who is most likely to benefit from yoga for generalized anxiety disorder to help providers better personalize treatment recommendations.
"We need more options to treat anxiety because different people will respond to different interventions, and having more options can help overcome barriers to care," she says. "Having a range of effective treatments can increase the likelihood people with anxiety will be willing to engage in evidence-based care."
#UN; #UNHealthOfficials; #Covid19; #GlobalCooperation
Geneva (UN), Aug 09 ((Canadian-Media): With more than 18.5 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide as of Thursday, and 700,000 deaths, the UN’s top health official again appealed to countries to unite in the fight against the disease.
WHO/PAHO recommendations have been instrumental in the Juarez Hospital in Mexico City. Image credit: UN Mexico/Gabriela Ramirez
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) was addressing the Aspen Security Forum, which brings together top-level present and former government officials from the United States.
The Americas remain the current epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For all our differences, we are one human race sharing the same planet and our security is interdependent - no country will be safe, until we’re all safe”, he told the virtual meeting.
“I urge all leaders to choose the path of cooperation and act now to end this pandemic! It’s not just the smart choice, it's the right choice and it’s the only choice we have.”
Invest in preparedness
Tedros said the pandemic has “stress tested” the global political, economic, cultural and social infrastructure, pushing national health systems everywhere, to their limits.
“The world spends billions every year preparing for potential terrorist attacks but we've learned lessons the hard way that unless we invest in pandemic preparedness and the climate crisis, we leave ourselves open to enormous harm”, he said.
As no country can fight the virus alone, Tedros said “our best way forward is to stick with science, solutions and solidarity, and together we can overcome this pandemic.”
Against “vaccine nationalism”
During a question-and-answer session moderated by US network TV news host, Lester Holt, the WHO chief was asked about ensuring fair distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when one is developed.
Tedros warned against “vaccine nationalism” in a globalized world.
In April, WHO and partners launched the ACT Accelerator to speed up development of vaccines and medicines against the disease, and to ensure that they will be available to people everywhere.
“But to make it happen, especially fair distribution, there should be a global consensus to make a vaccine, any product, a global public product. And this is a political choice, a political commitment, and we want political leaders to decide on this,” he said.
“What we’re saying is sharing vaccines, or sharing other tools, actually helps the world to recover together, and the economic recovery can be faster and the damage from COVID-19 could be less.”
#UN; #Covid19; #maskwearing; #physicalDistancing
United Nations, Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): There is “no silver bullet” to combat COVID-19, the head of the UN health agency told journalists on Monday, adding, “and there might never be”.
A woman wears a face mask while working in Gujarat, India.
Image credit: © UNICEF/Vinay Panjwani
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met Friday to review the current coronavirus pandemic at what chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called “a sobering moment”.
At a regular press briefing on Monday in Geneva, he recalled that when the Committee met three months ago, WHO had received reports of three million COVID-19 cases and more than 200,000 deaths.
“Since then”, he updated, “the number of cases has increased more than five-fold to 17.5 million, and the number of deaths has more than tripled, to 680,000”.
In addition to the direct toll of the virus, the Committee noted the impact disrupted services is having on a range of other diseases, which are compounding reduced immunization coverage, cancer screening and care, and mental health services.
And on top of the health impact, COVID-19 is causing social, economic and political damage, according to the WHO official.
The Committee suggested a range of proposals for countries to bring the virus under control, including enhanced political commitment and leadership for national strategies and localized response activities driven by science, data, and experience.
They also acknowledged that Member States have “tough choices” to make to turn the epidemic around.
While recognizing that “it’s not easy”, the WHO chief maintained that “when leaders step up and work intensely with their populations”, the disease can be “brought under control”.
“It’s never too late to turn this pandemic around”, Mr. Tedros upheld, adding that “if we act together today”, we can save lives and livelihoods.
The Committee recommended that countries engage in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, participate in relevant clinical trials, and prepare for safe and effective therapeutics and vaccine introduction, the WHO Director-General told reporters.
He also informed them that some vaccines are currently in phase three clinical trials, sharing his hope of having “a number of effective vaccines”.
“For now”, Mr. Tedros explained, “stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control”, including testing, isolating and treating patients, along with tracing and quarantining their contacts.
Meanwhile, individuals must keep physical distance, wearing a mask, clean their hands regularly and cough safely away from others.
It’s never too late to turn this pandemic around -- WHO chief
“The message to people and Governments is clear: do it all”, he stated, “and when it’s under control, keep going!”
This week, WHO is also launching a so-called “mask challenge”, by encouraging people to send in photos of themselves wearing a protective mask.
In addition to being a key tool to stop the virus, masks have come to represent solidarity.
“If you’re a health worker, a frontline worker, wherever you are – show us your solidarity in following national guidelines and safely wearing a mask – whether caring for patients or loved ones, riding on public transport to work, or picking up essential supplies” Mr. Tedros urged.
Breastfeeding during COVIDIn closing, the UN official reminded that this is breastfeeding awareness week.
He reiterated WHO’s recommendation that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged, the same as all other mothers, to initiate or continue to breastfeed, saying that the “many, many benefits of breastfeeding for newborn babies and children substantially outweigh the potential risks for COVID-19 infection”.