WHO: Coronavirus outbreak has not yet become a global health emergency

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020   •   439

Madrid – The coronavirus outbreak is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

“I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) today,” Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

“For the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade.

“We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures,” he added.

This announcement comes after three Chinese cities with a total population of around 18 million people had been put on lockdown Thursday in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus as hundreds of millions prepare to travel across the country to celebrate the new year.

China’s National Health Commission on Thursday published detailed information about the 17 mortal victims of the disease, which include 13 men and 4 women aged between 48 and 89.

Chinese state TV said there were now over 600 confirmed cases within the country.

Authorities closed down public transport and urged people to stay at home in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei province with a population of 11 million.

They later implemented similar measures in neighboring cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, which are separated by the Yangtze River and have populations of six and one million respectively.

Airlines in South Korea and Japan, where cases of the virus have also been detected, also halted outbound flights to China’s seventh largest city.

Singapore authorities confirmed a new case — a 66 years-old man with Chinese nationality who arrive in the city from Wuhan on January 20.

The coronavirus outbreak had already sparked even worries within the country, which is just a four-and-a-half hour flight from Wuhan.

The United Arab Emirates announced Thursday that Dubai airport will start screening passengers coming from China.

“Dubai International Airport will conduct thermal screening measures on passengers on direct flights from China,” Dubai Media Office posted to Twitter.

The Dubai airport, one of the world’s busiest, received in 2019 a total of 3.7 million Chinese visitors.

It said is prepared to welcome “the thousands of Chinese passengers anticipated to arrive at the airport during the Chinese New Year (25 January) festivities.”

Two days after the US authorities had confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Washington state, Canada Health Minister Patty Hajdu informed that several people in Canada were under observation for pneumonia signs although the risk remained low in the country.

“At this point, there has not been a positive case in Canada,” Hajdu said.
“The risk is low to Canadians.”

In other countries, the risk remains low, although Mexico and Brazil confirmed several suspected cases.

Health officials reported three new possible cases on Thursday, a woman, a man and a 2-year-old child from Tepatitlan, Jalisco.

The Brazilian government declared the Level 1 health alert due to the possible arrival of the coronavirus to the country since authorities had ruled out five suspected cases of the disease.

An Emergency Operations Center was installed to monitor the risk, according to official sources.

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, originating in Wuhan and provisionally named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (WHO), in many cases seems like a cold, but include fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The new coronavirus sometimes referred to as Wuhan pneumonia, is similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that in 2002-2003 killed more than 700 people. EFE-EPA

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WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday (July 7) acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people.

“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing.

The WHO has previously said the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.

But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday (July 6) in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

Because those smaller exhaled particles can linger in the air, the scientists are urging WHO to update its guidance.

Speaking at Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said there was evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but that it was not definitive.

Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Van Kerkhove said the WHO would publish a scientific brief summarising the state of knowledge on modes of transmission of the virus in the coming days.

“A comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” she said.

“This includes not only physical distancing, it includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can’t do physical distancing and especially for healthcare workers.” (Reuters)

(Production: Louisa Naks)

Global COVID-19 cases exceed 11.32 million, deaths top 530,000

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020

The number of global confirmed infections of COVID-19 continued climbing to 11,327,790 cases, while the deaths caused by the virus rose to 532,340 as of 18:01 CEST, Monday, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

India has overtaken Russia to become the world’s third-worst affected nation in terms of infections.

India’s federal health ministry Monday morning said 425 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 24,248 positive cases, were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 19,693 and total cases to 697,413.

According to ministry officials, so far 424,433 people have been discharged from hospital after showing improvement.

Presently the country has entered the “Unlock 2.0” phase, though restrictions remain in full force inside the COVID-19 containment zones.

The country on Monday reopened a total of 3,691 tourist attractions after they were ordered to close three months ago.

On Friday the country’s civil aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation announced commercial international flights to and from India shall remain suspended until July 31.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States topped 130,000 on Monday, reaching 130,248 as of 23:33 GMT, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

A total of 2,931,142 cases have been reported in the country, an increase of over 55,000 from Sunday, according to the CSSE.

The state of New York reported the most cases and the highest death toll in the country, standing at 397,649 and 32,219, respectively. Other states with over 100,000 cases include California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Arizona, the CSSE data showed.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services, as of Monday, 200,557 confirmed COVID-19 cases had been reported in the state, an increase of 5,318 from Sunday. The death toll reached 2,655.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. state of Arizona exceeded 100,000 to reach 101, 441 on Monday, with 3,352 new cases in 24 hours, the state’s Department of Health Services said.

Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 65,000 on Monday after 620 more patients died in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 65,487, the Ministry of Health said.

The total number of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the start of the outbreak rose to 1,623,284, following a daily surge of 20,229 cases.

Some 927,292 patients have recovered from the disease, the ministry said.

The state of Sao Paulo, the country’s most populated, is also the hardest hit by the pandemic, with 323,070 cases and 16,134 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 121,879 cases and 10,698 deaths.

Russia recorded 6,611 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 687,862, the country’s coronavirus response center said in a statement Monday.

The death toll rose by 135 to 10,296, while 454,329 people have recovered, said the statement.

By Monday, Russia has conducted over 21.3 million tests.

Also by Monday, Germany had confirmed about 196,554 COVID-19 infections, increasing by 219 from the previous day, while deaths rose by four to stand at 9,016, according to a report from Robert Koch Institute.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejects the idea of backing away from the face mask requirement in the country’s shops, government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said Monday.

“Wherever the minimum distance cannot be guaranteed in public life, masks are an important and, from today’s perspective, still indispensable means,” stressed Seibert. The wearing of masks is still necessary in order to “keep the number of infections low and to protect other people and ourselves

The Tokyo metropolitan government confirmed 102 new daily COVID-19 cases in the capital on Monday, marking the fifth successive day infections have topped 100 in Tokyo amid a prolonged resurgence of cases.

Of the 102 new cases, the trend of younger people being infected has continued, the metropolitan government said, with 72 new infections being those in their 20s and 30s, or about 70 percent of the total.

Of the newly confirmed cases in the city of 14 million, 42 have no known infection route, with 35 of the cases connected to nighttime entertainment establishments in downtown districts in Tokyo.

As clusters of infections continue in such districts, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Monday that 31 of the new cases were connected to such a nightspot in a part of the city’s Shinjuku district.

The Tokyo metropolitan government has urged people to pay serious attention to such virus-hit downtown areas and preventative measures, or lack thereof, against the spread of the pneumonia-carrying virus being taken by establishments located there.

It has also urged Tokyo residents to refrain from making unnecessary trips across prefectural borders.

Tokyo’s cumulative COVID-19 cases have now reached 6,867, the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures, according to the latest official figures Monday evening, accounting for roughly one-third of Japan’s total cases.

Nationwide, cases increased by 174 on Monday, bringing Japan’s cumulative total to 19,996, not including COVID-19 cases connected to a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama.

Japan’s death toll from the virus stands at 991 people, according to the latest figures Monday evening from the health ministry and local authorities.

Australia’s coronavirus death toll has increased for the first time in about 10 days to 106.

Authorities in Victoria on Monday revealed that two men, one in his 90s and the other in his 60s, died from COVID-19 in hospital on Sunday and Monday respectively, taking the state’s death toll to 22.

Michael Kidd, the Australian government deputy chief medical officer, said in an update on Monday that there have been 140 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia in the last 24 hours.

Of the new cases, 127 were in Victoria. And this is the state’s biggest daily increase, according to local media.

In response to the spike in cases, New South Wales (NSW) has joined other states in closing its borders to Victoria. (Reuters)

Brazil’s Bolsonaro tested again for novel coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday (July 6) he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus, after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including a fever.

Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested for the virus, adding that an exam had shown his lungs “clean.”

CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday.

The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended multiple events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro previously tested negative for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate in March. (Reuters)

(Production: Leonardo Benassatto, Paul Vieira)

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