The World Health Organisation, WHO, says one of its staff in Iran Country Office has tested positive for Coronavirus, COVID-19.
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, made the disclosure on Monday at a media briefing on COVID-19 update,
saying the organisation’s affected staff has mild disease.
Ghebreyesus said that the epidemics in the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan, was its greatest concern.
He said the WHO’s team arrived in Iran on Monday to deliver supplies and support the government in the COVID-19 response.
Ghebreyesus noted that the number of COVID-19 cases in China continue to decline, saying China on March 1 reported 206 cases to WHO, its lowest since Jan. 22.
“Only eight cases were reported outside Hubei province.
“Outside China, a total of 8,739 cases have been reported from 61 countries with 127 deaths.
“In the last 24 hours, there were almost nine times more COVID-19 cases reported outside China than inside China,” he said.
The director-general said the Republic of Korea has reported over 4,200 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths, meaning it has more than half of all cases outside China.
He, however, said that the cases in Korea appeared to be coming mostly from suspected cases from the five known clusters, rather than the community.
“That’s important, because it indicates that surveillance measures are working and Republic of Korea’s epidemic can still be contained.
“Republic of Korea’s situation also underlines that this is a unique virus with unique features. This virus is not influenza.
“We are in unchartered territory. We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures,” he said.
According to him, if COVID-19 is an influenza epidemic, we will have expected to see widespread community transmission across the globe by now, and efforts to slow it down or contain it would not be feasible.
“But containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.
“With early, aggressive measures, countries can stop transmission and save lives,” the world health body official said.
He added that people were debating whether the COVID-19 was a pandemic or not, saying WHO was monitoring the situation every moment of the day and analysing the data.
“WHO will not hesitate to describe this COVID-19 as a pandemic if that’s what the evidence suggests.
“But, we need to see this in perspective. Of the 88,913 COVID-19 cases reported globally so far, 90 per cent are in China, mostly in one province,” he said.
Ghebreyesus acknowledged the fear, concerns and questions of many people for their safety, saying the concerns varies depending on location, age and current health status.
“Individuals, families and communities should follow the advice provided by local health authorities and local health professionals,” he said.
According to him, WHO will continue to provide evidence-based guidance to help countries and individuals to assess and manage their risk and make decisions.
Ghebreyesus added that there was no one-size fits all approach, saying that different countries were in different scenarios.