In the opening remarks by World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last April 08 during a virtual press conference, he mentioned that April 09 marks 100 days since WHO was notified of the first cases of ‘pneumonia with unknown cause’ in China.
The WHO Director-General also recalled the efforts made by the organization in battling the new virus – formerly called the ‘Novel Coronavirus’ (NCOV) and later changed to ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019’ (COVID-19). Here, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus details the actions made by WHO from January 2020:
“On the 1st of January, just hours after we were notified of the first cases, WHO activated its Incident Management Support Team, to coordinate our response at headquarters, regional and country level. On the 5th of January, WHO officially notified all Member States of this new outbreak, and published a disease outbreak news on our website. On the 10th of January, we issued a comprehensive package of guidance to countries on how to detect, test and manage potential cases, and protect health workers. On the same day, we convened our strategic and technical advisory group on infectious hazards to review the situation,” begins World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We convened the emergency committee on the 22nd of January, and again a week later, after the first cases of human-to-human transmission were reported outside China, and declared a public health emergency of international concern – our highest level of alarm. At the time there were 98 cases outside China, and no deaths. In February an international team of experts from Canada, China, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Nigeria, the Russian Federation, Singapore and the United States of America visited affected provinces in China to learn more about the virus, the outbreak and the response, and to glean lessons for the rest of the world. In early February the United Nations Crisis Management Team was activated, to coordinate the entire machinery the UN to support countries as effectively as possible,” continues Dr. Ghebreyesus.
Since then, they have been working day and night in five key areas.
- Support for countries in building capacity to prepare and respond.
- Provision of accurate information and fight the ‘infodemic’.
- Ensure supplies and medical equipment for frontline health workers.
- Train and mobilize health workers.
- Accelerate research and development.