Coronavirus: World Health Organization Update (5 February 2020)

(Geneva, Switzerland) World Health Organization (WHO) update on the situation regarding 2019-nCoV

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General and Dr Sylvie Briand.

WHO website:

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that (USD) 675 million is needed for new coronavirus preparedness and response global plan.

To fight further spread of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China and globally, and protect states with weaker health systems, the international community has launched a US$675 million preparedness and response plan covering the months of February through to April 2020.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (05 Feb), WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that as global community, “let’s focus on the actions we can take today to prevent this outbreak from spreading all over the world.”

He also said that the situation can “get worse”, reiterating that “let’s use this window of opportunity. To really invest in prevention, to invest in control and prevent this virus from spreading. It’s time to act, not to speculate and spread fear.”

He said, “once again, we cannot defeat this outbreak without solidarity, political solidarity, technical solidarity, and financial solidarity.”

Also speaking to the reporters, Michael J. Ryan, the Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme said, “this is a global effort from the clinician and the frontline today connected to the world. And the world connected to each patient through those clinicians. And managing that process is a huge task in itself. But it is a great sign of the solidarity.”

He retreated “and again, remembering that the real heroes in this response at the frontline doctors and nurses who are going to work every day, and trying to help and save patients from this virus.”

Ryan also said, “but we’re not just talking about preparedness, we’re actively doing it. And when you look at the strategic response plan, the vast majority of that, over $600 million is aimed directly at building the capacity of those countries. And when you look at those countries, we have I think at the moment we have something like 27 countries that are at high risk of importing the virus or already have imported it, that need direct assistance very quickly. And then we have a group of countries who have some capacities but will require some technical assistance, and that’s 34.”

He continued, “we have over 50 countries that already either have a high risk of importation or have a need for either direct operational assistance or technical assistance from us. That’s a big challenge.”

In a press release, Dr Tedros Adhanom also said that “my biggest worry is that there are countries today who do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted with the virus, even if it were to emerge,” adding that “urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers.”

The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for the new coronavirus lays out activities and resources needed by international health organizations globally, including WHO, to implement priority public health measures in support of countries to prepare and respond to nCoV-2019 for a period February-April 2020. The objectives of the plan are to limit human-to-human transmission of the virus, particularly in countries most vulnerable if they were to face an outbreak; identify, isolate and care for patients early; communicate critical risk and event information; minimize social and economic impact; reduce virus spread from animal sources; and address crucial unknowns.

The plan focuses on: rapidly establishing international coordination and operational support; scaling up country readiness and response operations; accelerating priority research and innovation.

As noted in the SPRP, WHO assesses that the outbreak poses a very high risk in China, and high risk regionally and globally. The risk assessment was based on factors including the likelihood of further spread, the potential impact on human health, and the varying levels of effectiveness in national preparedness and response measures. Accelerated action, as called for in the plan, can address these risks and areas requiring support.

As of 10 a.m. Central European Time on 5 February, 25 countries have reported confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including China, where 24,363 people had contracted the virus, or over 99% of all cases. In all other countries, 191 cases have contracted the virus.

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