Zimbabwe: WHO Warns Against Losing Focus On Other Health Issues As China Records New Cases

24 June 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against ignoring other public health issues amid concerns that the bulk of resources are being channeled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a media briefing, World Health Organization's Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said despite the ongoing global response to the pandemic, global health surveillance and response system to diseases like influenza.

"Surveillance is suspended or declining in many countries with a sharp decline in sharing of influenza information and viruses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Southern Hemisphere flu season is already underway. There is no time to lose." said Dr Tedros.

These disruptions Dr. Tedros said could have significant impacts, including loss of capacity to detect new viruses with pandemic potential and for the development of new flu vaccines.

WHO Global Influenza programme Director, Dr Wenqing Zhang concurred with Dr. Tedros saying it is vital that countries optimize the use of their existing systems for surveillance and monitoring.

The global health body is offering its support to Chinese authorities, following a new cluster of coronavirus outbreaks in Beijing, 50 days after the city last reported a new case, with more than 100 confirmed cases.

"When you spent over 50 days without having a significant local transmission, a cluster like this is a concern, It's important for us to make models about what might be happening, but the answers lie in careful, systematic, exhaustive investigation of disease clusters to really look at what is happening in these situations," said Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

The experts warned on travelling saying it is up to the travelers and authorities to reduce contamination.

"The key issue is what the traveler themselves can do to protect their own health and then what the authorities can do with airports or on aircraft to reduce the risk of transmission. The ability to track and trace people after travel will also be vital," added Dr. Ryan

WHO has encouraged nations to fight in response to COVID-19 but must not neglect other viruses that are claiming lives at this moment as that will brew a disaster post COVID-19 pandemic

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