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WHO Director-General Dr Tedros, in his regular media briefing yesterday, highlighted that today is World Refugee Day and highlighted the risks of COVID-19 for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. He also stressed the shared duty to do everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to transmission of COVID-19 among refugee populations.

The hydroxychloroquine arm of the Solidarity Trial, which seeks to find an effective COVID19 treatment, is being stopped. The decision is based on evidence from the Solidarity Trial, the UK's Recovery trial and a Cochrane review of other evidence on hydroxychloroquine. Data shows that hydroxychloroquine does not result in the reduction of mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, when compared with standard of care. 

The investigation of a cluster of COVID-19 cases in Beijing associated with a wholesale market continues. As of 18 June, 10AM CEST, Chinese authorities have reported a total of 172 cases since 11 June, including 158 in Beijing, 10 linked cases in Hebei Province, 2 in Liaoning Province, 1 in Sichuan Province and 1 in Zhejiang Province. Three genetic sequences related to Xinfadi cluster have been uploaded to the GISAID database. WHO is closely monitoring the situation and is in close contact with national authorities in China.

WHO welcomes initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom that show dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. According to preliminary findings shared with WHO, for patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients who only require oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros, in his regular media briefing yesterday, stressed that “Despite the ongoing global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot lose sight of other significant public health issues, including influenza”. WHO urges countries to address the sharp decline in influenza surveillance and testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the southern hemisphere enters the flu season.

At present, there is no evidence of sexual transmission of the virus responsible for COVID-19. The virus can be passed however, through direct contact with saliva, for instance, kissing. WHO has also carefully investigated the risks of women transmitting COVID-19 to their babies during breastfeeding. Based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19. 

The investigation of a cluster of COVID-19 in Beijing associated with a wholesale market continues. As of 14 June, 16:00 (CEST+6), Chinese authorities reported a total of 77 cases since 11 June, including 2 linked cases in Liaoning Province. See below for more information and press statement issued on 13 June. 

Blood donations are vital during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO Regional Director for the Americas, Dr Carissa F. Etienne said “The safest blood comes through voluntary unpaid donation from people like you and me. Donation is an act of solidarity and altruism, which the world needs now more than ever in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”. 

WHO has published a rapid advice guidance on the Use of chest imaging in COVID-19. The guide examines available evidence and makes recommendations for the use of radiography, computed tomography and ultrasound for acute care of adult patients with suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 at different levels of disease severity. 

WHO published updated guidance on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19 on 5 June 2020, replacing the previous guidance originally published on 6 April 2020. 

“COVID-19 has been a problem for most countries, but this pandemic also provides a good opportunity to pursue health as a bridge to peace", said Dr Carissa F. Etienne, the Regional Director for the Americas.

Dr Carissa F. Etienne has also noted, “In South America, our response to the pandemic will be impacted by the arrival of winter, while hurricane season will complicate our efforts in North and Central America, and especially in the Caribbean”

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