Coronavirus | SARS-CoV2 | COVID-19

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It has never been clearer that communication is an important public health intervention that contributes to controlling pandemics. The WHO Regional Office for Europe discusses this and the risks of an “infodemic” – an overabundance of information, some of which can be misleading or even harmful. WHO launched the first Infodemiology conference on 29 June, which includes talks with experts on how the infodemic affects the world and reflections on how it can be managed. 

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian emergency and the already vulnerable people of Yemen are facing the added threat of COVID-19. This new burden on medical facilities could result in a catastrophic death toll. WHO and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre have joined forces to ensure access to healthcare for the vulnerable in remote areas through the provision of a minimum service package. 

Today we document a somber landmark: 10 million cases and nearly 500000 deaths of COVID-19 have now been reported globally. This comes amidst recent record numbers of new cases, with several countries reporting their highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period. As some countries start to reopen their societies and economies, WHO strongly encourages individuals, communities, and nations to take measures to reduce transmission, extend testing and contact tracing, and provide optimal care for every case. WHO has published advice for the public and an extensive range of guidance documents, and is working across the globe to support countriesin the response to the pandemic. 

Today we report a record number of new cases in the last 24 hours globally (189 077 cases), with several countriesreporting theirhighest number of new casesin a 24-hourperiod.

The phenomenon of an ‘infodemic’ has escalated to a level that requires a coordinated response. An infodemic is an overabundance of information–some accurate and some not–occurring during an epidemic. 

The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is a global initiative between multiple partners to ensure equitable access to life-saving tools for COVID-19. WHO has published the ACT-Accelerator Investment Case, which provides an overview of the ACT-Accelerator, its goals, and the investments that are required to carry out its mission. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros emphasized that “vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital tools – but to be truly effective they must be administered with another essential ingredient, which is solidarity”.

Yesterday the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was declared over after nearly two years. The WHO Regional Office for Africa and partners are now building on the Ebola response to tackle COVID-19 in the country. Additionally, WHO is supporting other countries in Africa as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates in the region.

Speaking at the 24 June media briefing on COVID-19, the Director-General highlighted work by WHO and UN partners to ensure global supplies of oxygen for treating patients, and discussed the difficult choices all countries must make in holding gatherings of large numbers of people. 

WHO has released a scientific brief on Breastfeeding and COVID-19 examining the evidence of the risks of transmission of COVID-19 from an infected mother to her baby through breastfeeding, as well as evidence on the risks to child health from not breastfeeding. WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate or continue to breastfeed.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros, in his regular media briefing, urged countries to double down on the fundamental public health measures, while facing the delicate balance between protecting their people and minimizing the social and economic damage caused by the pandemic. “It’s not a choice between lives and livelihoods. Countries can do both.” 

With influenza season starting in the southern hemisphere, WHO has alerted countriesto maintain vigilance for influenza and prepare for the upcoming influenza season during the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO recommends that countries optimize the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) for both influenza and COVID-19 sentinel surveillance. Countries are urged to (i) sustain influenza surveillance, (ii) report surveillance data to WHO FluNet and FluID or through regional platforms, (iii) send representative viruses to WHO Collaborating Centres of GISRS without delay, and (iv) maintain influenza vaccination programs according to WHO guidance.

The WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, shared that the European Region accounts for 31% of COVID-19 cases and 43% of COVID-19 deaths globally. Dr Kluge highlighted that several countries continue to face increasing disease incidence and that “Preparing for the autumn is a priority now at the WHO Regional Office for Europe”.

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