By Analou De Vera
The World Health Organization (WHO) will be sending 500,000 masks, 350,000 pairs of gloves, 40,000 respirators, as well as 18,000 isolation gowns to 24 countries to help stop the further spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019 nCoV-ARD).
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organization has released a total of US$9 million from its own Contingency Fund for Emergencies.
“[The] WHO is sending half a million masks; 350,000 pairs of gloves; 40,000 respirators; and almost 18,000 isolation gowns from our warehouses in Dubai and Accra to 24 countries, and we will add more countries. We’re sending 250,000 tests to more than 70 reference laboratories globally to facilitate faster testing,” said Tedros.
Tedros said there are 24,363 confirmed 2019 nCoV ARD cases, including 490 deaths in China.
“So far, 99 percent of the cases are in China, and 80 percent of cases in China are from Hubei province,” he said.
“The relatively small number of cases outside China gives us a window of opportunity to prevent this outbreak from becoming a broader global crisis,” he added.
“Our greatest concern is about the potential for spread in countries with weaker health systems and who lack the capacity to detect or diagnose the virus. We are only as strong as the weakest link,” the WHO official said.
The WHO will continue to support the Chinese government to address the novel coronavirus outbreak, particularly in Wuhan, China, said Tedros.
“We cannot defeat this outbreak without solidarity — political solidarity, technical solidarity, and financial solidarity,” he said.
“We understand that people are worried and concerned and rightly so. But this is not a time for fear, this is not a time for panic. It is a time for rational, evidence-based action and investment while we still have a window of opportunity to bring this outbreak under control,” he added.