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Protective gear lacking as coronavirus cases worldwide top half a million- WHO

Published Mar 27, 2020


Geneva/London - Coronavirus has infected

more than half a million people and killed more than 20 000

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globally, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said

on Friday, as he appealed again for protective gear for medical

staff working to save lives.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, urged

countries to refrain from using medicines that have not been

demonstrated to be effective against Covid-19, the disease

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caused by the virus.

"The chronic global shortage of personal protective gear is

now one of most urgent threats to our collective ability to save

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lives," Tedros told a Geneva news conference.

"Health workers in low- and middle-income countries deserve

the same protection as those in the wealthiest countries," he

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said, adding that the U.N. agency was shipping more supplies.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO's top emergencies expert, said the world

was "moving to an uncertain future".

"You see many countries around the world are just beginning

the cycle of this epidemic. Some have been through the cycle of

the epidemic like Singapore and China and are now desperately

trying not to have the disease re-emerge and cause another wave

of infections because of disease importations," he said.

Elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions

have been the hardest hit, but 10 to 15% of people under the age

of 50 have moderate to severe infection, Ryan said.


Asked about reports of infections in young adults, Ryan

said: "For most people it is a very mild infection, most young

people. But for a significant minority of people between the age

of 20 and 60 this is a significant infection."

"What is really emerging is a perception that this disease,

while not fatal and not causing critical disease in a younger

age group, is causing severe illness in many people," Ryan said.

Every infection of Covid-19 presents an opportunity for

onward spread, said Dr. Maria van Kerkhove.

"So even in younger populations, if you do have a mild

disease and you think it's no big deal, what the big deal is is

that you may transmit to somebody else who may be part of that

vulnerable population who may advance to severe disease and who

may die," she said.

The data showed that "the majority of children that are

infected are experiencing mild disease," ver Kerkhove said.

"But we do have reports, and there are some publications now

that describe severe disease in children. We have reports of

deaths in children. There is one in China, and I believe one in

the United States as well," she said.


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