'Strengthen preparation for coronavirus spread,' says WHO

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Kathmandu, March 9

World Health Organisation has asked countries in its South-East Asia Region to strengthen preparations for all possible scenarios and ensure early containment measures with India, Indonesia and Thailand confirming new cases of COVID-19.
“Top priority of countries should be to be ready to roll out speedy response to the first case, first cluster, and first evidences of community transmission. Early containment measures can help countries stop transmission,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
Five of the 11 countries in the Region have confirmed COVID-19 cases – Thailand 43, India 28, Indonesia 2 and Sri Lanka and Nepal one each.
“The risk of the new coronavirus is very high across the world and in WHO South-East Asia Region. More cases can be expected. Rapidly identifying these cases, isolating them and following their contacts are important initiatives to help limit person to person transmission.
The speed of our response is critical, which is only possible if we are prepared,” the Regional Director said.
Dr Khetrapal Singh said there are three priorities for country readiness – protecting health workers, engaging with communities and empowering them with timely and accurate information to enable them take protective measures, specially those at highest risk; and doing our best to contain epidemics in the most vulnerable countries.
The virus can cause mild, flu-like symptoms as well as more severe disease. Patients have a range of symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Based on current data, globally 81% of cases seem to have mild disease, about 14% appear to progress to severe disease, and some 5% are critical.
People can protect themselves and prevent spread of the virus by practicing hand hygiene, covering their cough and sneeze, maintaining distance from others if they are sick and from those who are sick, she said.
Infection prevention and control is of critical importance in health facilities for COVID-19. Outlining preparedness and response measures and capacities in the
WHO South-East Asia Region, Dr Khetrapal Singh said, WHO is assisting countries in preparedness and response planning, in coordination with other partner organization; as per updated global guidelines. 
Last modified on 2020-03-10 11:09:02

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