WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

17-May-2022 00:05:34
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, "over the last week, COVID-19 cases have risen in four out of the six WHO regions. Due to testing and sequencing reducing in many countries, it is increasingly difficult to know where the virus is and how it’s mutating." WHO
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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT: 5:34
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 17 MAY 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, press briefing room
2.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"Over the last week, COVID-19 cases have risen in four out of the six WHO regions. Due to testing and sequencing reducing in many countries, it is increasingly difficult to know where the virus is and how it’s mutating."
3. Wide shot, press briefing room
4.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:
"The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, has announced, through their state media, their first outbreak of COVID-19, with more than 1.4 million suspected cases since late April. WHO is deeply concerned at the risk of further spread of COVID-19 in the country particularly because the population is unvaccinated and many have underlying conditions putting them at risk of severe disease and death. We are also concerned about Eritrea, another country that has not started vaccinating its population. WHO have requested that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea share data and information. WHO has offered to provide a package of technical support and supplies, including diagnostic tests, essential medicines, and vaccines ready to be deployed to the country."
7. Wide shot, press briefing room
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Mike Ryan, EXD, WHO Health Emergencies Programme (on concerns about COVID-19 in DPRK):
"I think WHO has repeatedly said, that where you have unchecked transmission, there's always a higher risk of new variants emerging. And part of that strategy of suppressing infection and vaccinating is, yes, to save lives in terms of reducing hospitalization and death, but also to keep pressure on the virus so we don't see the same rate of evolution of the virus around the world. So certainly, it's worrying if countries, as DG has said many times, are not using the tools that are now available. These tools are available and they're ready to be used. And as such, WHO stands ready to support both North Korea and Eritrea and with our partners in doing that. But beyond that, WHO has no special powers to intervene in a sovereign state. It would be clearly of interest to surrounding states and other states to work with both countries, to encourage them to take the action necessary to protect their population and by extension, protect populations and countries around them."
9. Wide shot, press briefing room
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
"We need to correct this narrative that Omicron is mild. That narrative is really deadly because people think that they're not at risk. We know consistently across countries that people with underlying conditions are at increased risk of severe disease. But we have solutions for this because we have vaccines. Those vaccines have to be accessible to people so that they can be administered and save people's lives. We also have access to tests and early clinical care, and all of these tools are saving lives. So please help us correct this narrative that Omicron is mild because it's not. It can cause anything from asymptomatic infection all the way to severe disease and death. And what we want to do is prevent infections. Not only do vaccines prevent against severe disease and death, they also reduce the risk of developing post-COVID-19 condition. We cannot forget about the long-term consequences following infection. And this is something that all countries need to consider in going forward. So increasing vaccination coverage is key, but also we have to take steps to reduce the spread, and we have tools that can do that."
11. Wide shot, press briefing room
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme:
"And so what we're looking at here is a number of studies that are ongoing to better understand, number one, the extent of circulation of monkeypox in London, among communities with men who have sex with men, and making sure that testing is occurring, that isolation of men or people who are suspected of having monkeypox are isolated, that they receive the appropriate clinical care. And as (Dr Ibrahima) Socé (Fall) has mentioned, what we really need to understand is the basic epidemiology of monkeypox. This once again highlights the threat of viruses like this. This is an orthopoxvirus. This is one that is on our radar, of course. But we really need to better understand the extent of monkeypox in endemic countries like in DRC and in Nigeria, Central African Republic and others, to really understand how much is circulating and the risk that it poses for people who are living there as well as the risk of exportation."
13. Wide shot, press briefing room
14. SOUNDBITE (French) Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response (on situation in Tigray, Ethiopia)
"The situation is catastrophic. We continue to sound the alarm so that complete humanitarian access is guaranteed in Tigray. But there is also a risk of escalation of the security situation because up until now, troop movements on the Eritrean side and in some other areas have been reported. I think it is likely that the situation will get worse. We can see that the drought, which is gaining way in the Horn of Africa, in east Africa, will aggravate the current situation. The situation is terrible, and we must do something because otherwise it will be too late."
15. Wide shot, press briefing room
STORYLINE
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, "over the last week, COVID-19 cases have risen in four out of the six WHO regions. Due to testing and sequencing reducing in many countries, it is increasingly difficult to know where the virus is and how it’s mutating."

Speaking to reporters today (17 May) in Geneva, Tedros said, "the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, has announced, through their state media, their first outbreak of COVID-19, with more than 1.4 million suspected cases since late April. WHO is deeply concerned at the risk of further spread of COVID-19 in the country particularly because the population is unvaccinated and many have underlying conditions putting them at risk of severe disease and death.”

He said WHO is also concerned about Eritrea, “another country that has not started vaccinating its population.”

He added that WHO have requested that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea share data and information, “WHO has offered to provide a package of technical support and supplies, including diagnostic tests, essential medicines, and vaccines ready to be deployed to the country."

WHO’s Mike Ryan also spoke to the reporters. He said, "I think WHO has repeatedly said, that where you have unchecked transmission, there's always a higher risk of new variants emerging. And part of that strategy of suppressing infection and vaccinating is, yes, to save lives in terms of reducing hospitalization and death, but also to keep pressure on the virus so we don't see the same rate of evolution of the virus around the world. So certainly, it's worrying if countries, as DG has said many times, are not using the tools that are now available.”

He added, “these tools are available and they're ready to be used. And as such, WHO stands ready to support both North Korea and Eritrea and with our partners in doing that. But beyond that, WHO has no special powers to intervene in a sovereign state. It would be clearly of interest to surrounding states and other states to work with both countries, to encourage them to take the action necessary to protect their population and by extension, protect populations and countries around them."

WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove said, "we need to correct this narrative that Omicron is mild. That narrative is really deadly because people think that they're not at risk.”

She continued, “we know consistently across countries that people with underlying conditions are at increased risk of severe disease. But we have solutions for this because we have vaccines. Those vaccines have to be accessible to people so that they can be administered and save people's lives.”

Kerkhove continued, “we also have access to tests and early clinical care, and all of these tools are saving lives. So please help us correct this narrative that Omicron is mild because it's not. It can cause anything from asymptomatic infection all the way to severe disease and death. And what we want to do is prevent infections. Not only do vaccines prevent against severe disease and death, they also reduce the risk of developing post-COVID-19 condition.”

She continued, “we cannot forget about the long-term consequences following infection. And this is something that all countries need to consider in going forward. So increasing vaccination coverage is key, but also we have to take steps to reduce the spread, and we have tools that can do that."

On monkeypox, Kerkhove said, “what we're looking at here is a number of studies that are ongoing to better understand, number one, the extent of circulation of monkeypox in London, among communities with men who have sex with men, and making sure that testing is occurring, that isolation of men or people who are suspected of having monkeypox are isolated, that they receive the appropriate clinical care.”

She continued, “as (Dr Ibrahima) Socé (Fall) has mentioned, what we really need to understand is the basic epidemiology of monkeypox. This once again highlights the threat of viruses like this. This is an orthopoxvirus. This is one that is on our radar, of course. But we really need to better understand the extent of monkeypox in endemic countries like in DRC and in Nigeria, Central African Republic and others, to really understand how much is circulating and the risk that it poses for people who are living there as well as the risk of exportation."

On situation in Tigray, Ethipopia, Ibrahima Socé Fall, Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response, said, "the situation is catastrophic. We continue to sound the alarm so that complete humanitarian access is guaranteed in Tigray. But there is also a risk of escalation of the security situation because up until now, troop movements on the Eritrean side and in some other areas have been reported.”

He continued, “I think it is likely that the situation will get worse. We can see that the drought, which is gaining way in the Horn of Africa, in east Africa, will aggravate the current situation. The situation is terrible, and we must do something because otherwise it will be too late."
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