Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that although the Covid-19 situation in Europe is improving, globally it was worsening.
He was speaking at a media briefing on June 8.
“Almost seven million cases of Covid-19 have now been reported to WHO, and almost 400 000 deaths. More than 100 000 cases have been reported on nine of the past 10 days. By June 7, more than 136 000 cases were reported, the most in a single day so far,” Dr Tedros said.
Almost 75 per cent of the reported cases on June 7 came from just 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia.
“Most countries in the African region are still experiencing an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, with some reporting cases in new geographic areas, although most countries in the region have less than 1 000 cases.
“We also see increasing numbers of cases in parts of eastern Europe and central Asia. At the same time, we’re encouraged that several countries around the world are seeing positive signs.
“In these countries, the biggest threat now is complacency. Results from studies to see how much of the population has been exposed to the virus show that most people globally are still susceptible to infection. We continue to urge active surveillance to ensure the virus does not rebound, especially as mass gatherings of all kinds are starting to resume in some countries,” Dr Tedros said.
Contact tracing remains an essential element of the response.
WHO has published new guidelines on the use of digital tools for contact tracing.
“Many digital tools have been developed to assist with contact tracing and case identification. Some are designed for use by public health personnel, like WHO’s Go.Data application, which has been used successfully to trace contacts during the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC,” Dr Tedros said.
Other digital technologies make use of GPS or Bluetooth technology to identify those who may have been exposed to an infected person.
Dr Tedros said that more evidence is needed about the effectiveness of these tools for contact tracing. We encourage countries to gather this evidence as they roll out these tools, and to contribute that evidence to the global knowledge base.
“We also emphasise that digital tools do not replace the human capacity needed to do contact tracing.”
As part of WHO’s commitment to coordinating the global response, the organisation is running the Covid-19 Partners Platform, an online tool that enables countries to match needs with resources.
“This online tool enables countries to enter planned activities for which they need support, and donors to match their contributions to these activities. So far, 105 national plans have been uploaded and 56 donors have entered their contributions, totalling US$3.9-billion.”
WHO has shipped more than five million items of personal protective equipment to 110 countries.
“More than six months into this pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal. This is the time for countries to continue to work hard, on the basis of science, solutions and solidarity,” Dr Tedros said.
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