WHO Reminds Public to 'Help Each Other As Best We Can' Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging the public to follow proper safety procedures and support each other, according to the latest press conference.

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging the public to follow proper safety procedures and support each other, according to the latest press conference.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom, PhD, opened the conference with a message to the many countries that are beginning to experience the COVID-19 pandemic about taking a comprehensive approach toward the virus. “Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks ‘that won’t happen to us’ is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to any country,” Adhanom said.

Officials from the WHO, including Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Program Dr. Michael J. Ryan and technical lead of WHO Health Emergencies program Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, discussed the specific measures that certain countries have been taking to ensure COVID-19 does not become an epidemic.

When asked about social distancing as a precaution for COVID-19, Ryan reiterated how each country is in a different situation at the moment but might not have another option.

“Social distancing is based on the principle that you don’t know who’s infected and you’re separating by putting social distance between everyone,” Ryan said. “Many counties are in a situation where the disease is recognizable, cases are detected, contacts are identified and quarantined, and it is more cost effective to separate some individuals from society than separate everyone in society from each other. However, where there is not a good handle, where there hasn’t been a good understanding of disease transmission, where enough has not been invested in core public health interventions, then social distancing measures may be their only option to create distance between individuals.”

In the situation of identifying contacts of confirmed cases, Van Kerkhove believes that a process should be in place. “If you haven’t been contacted as a known contact of a confirmed case, contact your local department of health, your local ministry, or [general practitioner] and say, 'I believe I’m a contact, what should I do?'” Van Kerkhove said. “There are plans in place to be able to give you the right advice on what to do, if you have symptoms or not, if you should self-quarantine to determine what is the type of nature of the contact.”

The WHO, along with the United Nations Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, announced the launch of the COVID-19 Solidarity Preparedness and Response Plan. The funds raised from the plan will be used to help buy masks, gloves, gowns and goggles for health workers, buy diagnostic tests, improve surveillance, and invest in further research and development.

More information can be found at www.covid19responsefund.org.

REFERENCE

Virtual Press Conference- 2019-nCoV- March 13, 2020. CDC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi69S1UNAVA&feature=emb_logo. Live Stream; March 13, 2020. Accessed March 13, 2020.