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The World Health Organization will soon publish its Technical Strategy update to form the Second Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for the containment of the novel Coronavirus.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, who announced this at a media briefing said the strategy would address the circumstances in lower- and middle-income countries and communities with weaker health systems and infrastructure, especially in countries affected by conflict and for displaced people.

“We are yet to see the devastation it could wreak in poorer and more vulnerable countries. We’re committed to doing everything we can to prevent that from happening, without help and action now, poor countries and vulnerable communities could suffer massive devastation,” he said.

Dr Ghebreyesus, however, observed that the window for containing the virus at the sub-national and national level was closing in many countries and the infection numbers in Africa were relatively small now, but growing fast.

In his opening remarks at the Mission briefing on COVID-19, on Thursday, Dr Ghebreyesus explained that the update was, therefore, built on five strategic objectives which were : to mobilize all sectors and communities and control sporadic cases and clusters and prevent community transmission.

The other objectives were to suppress community transmission where it is occurring; reduce mortality through appropriate care; and develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics.

“These strategic objectives must be supported by tailored national strategies to find, test, isolate and care for every case, and trace every contact,” he said.

National strategies, Dr Ghebreyesus said, must be supported at the international level in five key areas focused on by the WHO to support countries to build their capacities to prepare and respond to COVID-19 and to provide epidemiological analysis and risk communication.

They are also to coordinate the global supply chain; to provide technical expertise and mobilize the health workforce; and to accelerate research, innovation and knowledge sharing.

“We have learned much about this new virus since we first encountered it at the start of the year. These hard-won lessons are reflected in the new strategy,” he said.

The second Strategic Plan would also estimate the resources needed to implement national and international strategies.
Dr Ghebreyesus cautioned: “We must quarantine politicizing this virus at national and global levels. We have to work together, and we have no time to waste. Our singular focus is on working to serve all people to save lives and stop the pandemic – stop this dangerous enemy”.

The global spread of the virus, he said, had overwhelmed health systems, disrupted economy, and led to widespread social disruption with a fatality rate estimated to be 10 times higher than influenza, he said.

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