WHO Inaugurate Covid-19 Task Force.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it has inaugurated the UN COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force, to dramatically scale up the supply of life-saving tools and match supply with needs.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director- General of WHO made this known in a statement posted on the organisation‘s website after the inauguration of the Task Force in Geneva.

“I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres for bringing all UN agencies together to contribute to the Covid-19 Task Force.’’

According to him, today marks 100 days since WHO was notified of the first cases of “pneumonia with unknown cause” in China.

“It’s incredible to reflect on how dramatically the world has changed, in such a short period of time.

“I’d like to give an overview of what WHO has done in the past 100 days, and what we will be doing in the near future to alleviate suffering and save lives.

“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, he said WHO convened its strategic and technical advisory group on infectious hazards to review the situation.

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Ghebreyesus said the UN health agency had been engaging with journalists since the beginning, responding to media enquiries around the clock.

“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.

“Since then, we have been working day and night in five key areas,’’ he said.

First, the director general said WHO had been worked to support countries in building their capacity to prepare and respond to the virus.

“Through WHO’s network of six regional offices and 150 country offices, we’ve worked closely with governments around the world to prepare their health systems for COVID-19, and to respond when cases arrive.

“Second, we’ve worked with numerous partners to provide accurate information and fight the infodemic.’’

The director general also said the WHO had been working to train and mobilise health workers to manage the pandemic.

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“More than 1.2 million people have enrolled in six courses in 43 languages on our OpenWHO.org platform. Our target is to train tens of millions, and we have all the readiness to train tens of millions, hundreds of millions.
“Experts have been deployed around the world through WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network and our Emergency Medical Teams platform.’’
In addition, he said the agency had accelerated research and development on the virus.

“In February we brought more than 400 of the world’s leading researchers together to identify and accelerate research priorities.

“We launched the Solidarity Trial, with more than 90 countries working together to find effective therapeutics as soon as possible.

“To better understand the transmission, epidemiology and clinical features of the virus, we have developed research protocols that are being used in more than 40 countries, in a coordinated way.
“There are many, many other things WHO has done in the past 100 days that I haven’t mentioned.

“For the past 100 days, our unwavering commitment has been to serve all people of the world with equity, objectivity and neutrality.
“And that will continue to be our sole focus in the days, weeks and months ahead.’’ he said (NAN)

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