WHO director-general praises China’s response as coronavirus gets name

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a vaccine could be ready in 18 months

CORONAVIRUS: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization

THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL of the World Health Organization (WHO) has again praised China’s efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak as the disease was named today.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced at a media briefing earlier today that the new coronavirus has been named COVID-19.

He explained the name was chosen to “prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing”.

Under WHO guidelines issued in 2015, disease names should not refer to a geographical location, an animal, or an individual or group of people.

“Keep your distance from someone who is coughing or sneezing”

WHO director-general re-issues hygiene guidelines

In his address to the media, Tedros also reiterated his praise of China’s response to the outbreak.

He said that the window of opportunity to stop the outbreak was made possible thanks to the action taken by China.

“You strike hard when the window of opportunity is there. That’s what we’re saying to the rest of the world. Let’s be serious in using the window of opportunity we have.

“The opportunity was created because of the serious measures China is taken in Wuhan and other cities,” Tedros said.

As of 5am GMT Tuesday morning, there were 42,708 confirmed cases and 1,017 deaths in China.

The majority of the deaths have been recorded in Hubei, a province in Wuhan.

Outside of China there have been 393 cases in 24 countries and one death.

Vaccine

As part of the efforts to deal with the disease, scientists are working to develop vaccines, the first of which could be ready in 18 months, Tedros said.

In the meantime, the director-general said: “We have to do everything today using the available weapons.”

In addition to outlining the measures the WHO are taking, which include sending diagnostic and treatment supplies to countries and training thousands of health workers, Tedros re-issued basic hygiene advice.

He said: “It’s when each and every individual becomes part of the containment strategy that we can succeed. That’s why reaching out to the public directly and telling them the precautions they should take.

“Clean your hands regularly, either with alcohol-based rub or soap and water. Keep your distance from someone who is coughing or sneezing. And when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow.”

A WHO meeting, which began today and continues tomorrow in Geneva, Switzerland, will see more than 400 scientists come together in person and remotely to discuss the outbreak and to come up with measures to tackle it.

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