WHO declares eradication of second strain of wild poliovirus strain

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2019   •   674

A child receives an oral polio vaccine from Red Cross volunteers during a vaccination program by the UNICEF at a public school building turned into a temporary evacuation center in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, 26 November 2013. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated worldwide, hailing the development as a “historic achievement for humanity.”

The WHO made the announcement on World Polio day on Oct. 24.

There are three strains of wild poliovirus. All three types can cause irreversible paralysis or even death but the WHO said these three have genetic and virologic differences that must be eradicated individually.

The WPV3 is the second poliovoirus strain to be wiped out following the eradication of wild poliovirus 2 in 2015. The last confirmed case of WPV3 was reported in northern Nigeria in 2012, according to the WHO.

An independent panel of experts concluded that WPV3 strain has been eradicated after meeting the required criteria for verification.

“The achievement of polio eradication will be a milestone for global health. Commitment from partners and countries, coupled with innovation, means of the three wild polio serotypes, only type one remains,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and Chair of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) Polio Oversight Board said in a statement.

“We remain fully committed to ensuring that all necessary resources are made available to eradicate all poliovirus strains. We urge all our other stakeholders and partners to also stay the course until final success is achieved,” he added.

According to Professor David Salisbury, chair of the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, the type 1 of wild poliovirus still continues to circulate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We cannot stop our efforts now: we must eradicate all remaining strains of all polioviruses,” Salisbury said in a statement.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal.

Health authorities said there is no cure for polio and it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.

The WHO said eradicating WPV3 proves that a polio-free world is achievable. Key to success will be the ongoing commitment of the international development community. 

“To this effect, as part of a Global Health Week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in November 2019, the Reaching the Last Mile Forum will focus international attention on eradication of the world’s deadliest diseases,” the WHO said.

The agency believes the event will provide an opportunity for world leaders and civil society organizations to contribute to the last mile of polio eradication.

All people should take precautions against COVID-19: WHO chief

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

Every age group should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from being infected with COVID-19, stated the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) during a press conference on Thursday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also acknowledged that long-term care facilities are being hit hard by the coronavirus in many countries.

“In many countries, more than 40 percent of COVID-19-related deaths have been linked to long-term care facilities and up to 80 percent in some high-income countries,” said Tedros.

He stated that although seniors are vulnerable to COVID-19, young people face the same risk of being infected.

In some countries, the number of cases increased because young people relaxed their vigilance and didn’t follow precautionary measures.

“Young people are not invincible. Young people can be infected. Young people can die. And young people can transmit the virus to others. That’s why young people must take the same precautions to protect themselves and protect others as everyone else,” said Tedros.

As of 18:03 Central European Summer Time on Thursday, there have been 16,812,755 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 662,095 deaths, reported the WHO. (Reuters)

WHO chief says some COVID-19 spikes due to ‘young letting down guard’

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday (July 30) spikes in the number of new COVID-19 cases in some countries were driven partly by young people letting down their guard, but that the world needed to learn to live with the disease.

“We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” WHO director general Tedros told a news briefing in Geneva on Thursday, adding recent “spikes have been driven by young people letting down their guard in the northern hemisphere summer.”

France reported almost 1,400 new cases on Wednesday (July 29), the highest daily increase in more than a month.

Britain reported 763 new confirmed cases on Wednesday. (Reuters)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani)

Global COVID-19 cases top 16.34 million, death toll surpasses 650,000 on Monday: WHO

UNTV News   •   July 30, 2020

Global confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 16.34 million and death toll reached 650,805 as of 16:52 CEST Tuesday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO coronavirus disease dashboard showed the number of COVID-19 cases in the America is at 8,728,962, covered more than half of the global total.

Europe reported more than 3.26 million cases. Southeast Asia and Eastern Mediterranean reported over 1.83 million and 1.49 million cases, respectively.

Meanwhile the confirmed cases from Africa stood at 726,105, and the Western Pacific at 291,993.

The United States, with the most confirmed cases in the world, reported 33,884 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections up to more than 4.3 million, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The national death toll reached 148,298, 1,013 cases more than the previous day, the CSSE tally showed.

The state of Florida on Tuesday reported 186 new deaths, a record high since the outbreak of the pandemic in the state.

Brazil, second only to the United States both in terms of caseload and death toll, on Tuesday recorded 921 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 88,539.

Meanwhile, tests have detected 40,816 new infections, taking the total caseload to 2,483,191, said its health ministry.

The Autonomous Community of Madrid on Tuesday became the last region in mainland Spain to confirm that wearing a face mask will be mandatory starting from Thursday in all open and closed spaces regardless of whether safe social distancing is or can be practiced.

The Spanish Health Ministry on Monday said that 1,278 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Community of Madrid in the previous week. The new measures aimed at containing the virus include limits on the number of people allowed to meet and on the opening times of late-night bars and discos.

Turkey confirmed 963 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, while the total diagnosed cases climbed to 227,982, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Zimbabweans will mark Heroes’ Day and Defense Forces Day without gatherings this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities said on Tuesday. Instead, virtual celebrations will take place over a period of two weeks and will be broadcast by the state broadcaster ZBC.

Zimbabwe has seen a spike in COVID-19 infections over the past week, which rose from 1,713 on July 20 to 2,704 as of Tuesday with 36 deaths.

India’s COVID-19 tally crossed the 1.5 million-mark on Wednesday, reaching 1,531,669, the federal health ministry said.

The ministry said 768 new deaths from COVID-19 and 48,513 positive cases were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 34,193 and total cases to 1,531,669. (Reuters)

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