“Every scenario on the table” in China virus outbreak – WHO

UNTV News   •   February 18, 2020   •   447

The latest data provided by China on people infected with coronavirus indicates a decline in new cases, but “every scenario is still on the table” in terms of the epidemic’s evolution, the World Health Organization said on Monday (February 17).

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva that China’s detailed paper on more than 44,000 confirmed cases provided insight into the age range of infections, disease severity and mortality rates.

Asked whether the outbreak was a pandemic, Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “The real issue is whether we are seeing efficient community transmission outside of China, and at the present time, we are not observing that”.

WHO expert Sylvie Briand said the agency was working closely with Japanese authorities and the chief medical officer on the Diamond Princess docked off Yokohama on infections and evacuations, adding: “Our focus is on our public health objective that we contain the virus and not contain the people”. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depetris, Johnny Cotton)

Air quality in Beijing improves due to coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   April 6, 2020

As the whole world is struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic, one of the unexpected outcomes for Chinese people is more clean skies.

China had a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities like Beijing during February, when factories and streets were closed as authorities attempted to stop the spread of the virus, according to the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus satellite image.

Analysis by Greenpeace shows that the pollutant emissions in Beijing and its surrounding areas dropped by more than 40% year-on-year in February.

Compared to previous years, the air in the capital has seen a big improvement during the outbreak. Streets and landmarks are no longer covered in smog.

Beijing resident Liu Chuan takes this as a potential health benefit, saying that he could even see stars at night after work.

“It feels like the air is overall much less polluted than it used to be. It also improves people’s mood, and indirectly strengthens the immunity. It’s good for fighting the virus,” added Liu.

However, expert warns the air pollution and carbon emissions may soon reappear as Chinese factories are ramping up output in an effort to offset the economic hit of coronavirus.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that it may cause air pollution frequently if a large scale of high-polluting industries resume production,” said Lyn Liu, a Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. (Reuters)

(Production: Irene Wang, Shubing Wang, Joyce Zhou, Natalie Thomas)

China advises foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing

UNTV News   •   April 3, 2020

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

China’s foreign ministry is advising foreign diplomats to stop coming to Beijing, after the country temporarily banned most foreigners from entering to prevent a resurgence of a coronavirus epidemic, a spokeswoman said on Friday (April 3).

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that the ministry was aware of confirmed coronavirus cases among foreign diplomats in China.

Mainland China reported 31 new confirmed coronavirus cases, 29 of which were imported from overseas, the country’s National Health Commission said on Friday.

The total number of infections now stands at 81,620 and 3,322 deaths have been reported from mainland China to date. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Irene Wang)

WHO warns Western Pacific countries to prepare for ‘large-scale’ outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   April 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Western Pacific region is far lower than the number in Europe and the United States.

China, the origin of the new virus, also reported low rate of new infection in the recent days since the pandemic started in January this year.

But the World Health Organization (WHO) cannot be complacent.

Who Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai has warned countries in the Western Pacific Region, including the Philippines, “to prepare for the large-scale community outbreak.”

The official said one effective strategy to slow down the spread of COVID-19 is the lockdown, though such measure is not enough to stop the contagion.

Lockdown to be effective, we also have to continue find case, isolate and treat early and also trace and quarantine those contacts. Lockdown is a bundle of public health measures,” Dr. Kasai said.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier urged people worldwide to always prepare as if they would contract the virus and governments to take a comprehensive approach to fighting the epidemic by tracing, testing and isolating as many cases as possible.

“To suppress and control the epidemic, countries must isolate, test, treat and trace,” the official said.

“If they don’t, transmission chains can continue at a low level and then resurface once physical distancing measures are lifted,” he added. He said the test and trace strategy must be the backbone of the response in every country.

Tedros also said that to speed up the search for treatment of the infection, the WHO and its partners are organizing a multi-country study to analyse and compare some yet untested treatments.

Europe is now considered to be the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. MNP / Reuters

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