Coronavirus global health emergency: Coverage from UN News
The outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019

This page brings together information and guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations regarding the current outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that was first reported in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. Please visit this page for daily updates. WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.

UN Catch-Up Dateline Geneva - Madagascar crisis, Africa COVID alert, US lifts vaccine protections, South Sudan schools reopen

In this week’s UN Catch-Up: a veteran aid worker’s take on the distressing scale of the humanitarian crisis in Southern Madagascar – it’s on the “periphery of famine”, he tells us, and not for the first time.

There’s an alert too from WHO on Africa where a “third wave “of coronavirus infections is feared, along with some good news – and some not so good - from South Sudan, where schools have reopened after lockdown, and positive news from the United States, which has decided to lift patent restrictions on COVID vaccines. 

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15'1"

News in Brief 6 May 2021

  • COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver in US, hailed by UN chief
  • Maximize vaccines to avoid deadly 3rd wave in Africa - WHO
  • Latin America rights groups face growing threats, attacks: Bachelet
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3'10"

WHO chief hails ‘monumental moment’ in COVID fight, as US throws support behind vaccine patent waiver

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said the commitment announced by the United States administration to lift vaccine patent protections to help boost global supply, was a “monumental moment” in the battle to end the deadly pandemic.

News in Brief 5 May 2021

  • COVID-19 pandemic preparedness hub to open in Berlin to promote transparency, early warning capability
  • 155 million faced acute food insecurity last year, with conflict the main driver
  • South Asia at breaking point as COVID infections spike: UNICEF
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3'23"

South Asia: ‘Real possibility’ health systems will be strained to a breaking point, UNICEF warns

Impacts of the deadly new surge in COVID-19 cases across South Asia are unlike anything the region has seen before, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said, warning of a “real possibility” that health systems there will be strained to a breaking point, leading to even more loss of life. 

UN envoy Gordon Brown urges G7 countries to fund global COVID vaccination push

Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on Monday for the world’s richest nations to underwrite COVID-19 vaccination in poorer countries, highlighting the need to raise some $60 billion over the next two years. 

UN has ‘all hands on deck’ across India to help save lives amid deadly COVID surge

The United Nations has deployed all the personnel and resources at its disposal to help Indians deal with the deadly surge in COVID-19 that has seen more than 300,000 reported new cases per day, for almost two weeks now, and left many hospitals overwhelmed.

That’s according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) India Representative, Dr. Roderico Ofrin, speaking exclusively to UN News, who told Anshu Sharma that tried and trust methods of bringing down the numbers would surely work, if India can get “ahead of the game”.

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9'16"

News in Brief 3 May 2021

  • E-commerce’s dramatic rise fuelled by COVID-19 restrictions: UNCTAD
  • Press freedom 'a cornerstone of democracy' says UN chief
  • UN migration agency launches appeal to support COVID-19 shots in East Africa
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3'3"

COVID-19 ‘vaccine equity in action’ in the Maldives: a UN Resident Coordinator blog

The roll-out of vaccinations to prevent COVID-19 infections rising in the Maldives is a good example of “vaccine equity in action” according to Catherine Haswell, the UN Resident Coordinator for the Indian Ocean island nation.

Decades of health gains at risk in Brazil due to COVID-19

Although COVID-19 cases are declining in Brazil, the pandemic is putting decades of public health gains there at risk, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. 

WHO’s Advice For the general public

WHO
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) advice for the public.

 

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask

 

  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China?

Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?

No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.

Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.

Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. 

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

Can gargling mouthwash protect you from infection with the new coronavirus?

No. There is no evidence that using mouthwash will protect you from infection with the new coronavirus.

Some brands or mouthwash can eliminate certain microbes for a few minutes in the saliva in your mouth. However, this does not mean they protect you from 2019-nCoV infection.

Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Does putting on sesame oil block the new coronavirus from entering the body?

No. Sesame oil does not kill the new coronavirus. There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on surfaces. These include bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, either solvents, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform.

However, they have little or no impact on the virus if you put them on the skin or under your nose. It can even be dangerous to put these chemicals on your skin.

Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?

People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. 

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.