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.

From landmines to pandemics, on Mine Awareness Day UN chief says milestones reached by ‘working together’

Decades ago, millions of landmines were buried in countries around the globe, and today the world is in the throes of a deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the UN chief said on Saturday, noting that in both situations, the most vulnerable remain at risk.

Coronavirus restrictions hamper aid access for Sudanese in need

The United Nations and its partners are putting in place alternative plans to ensure the continuity of humanitarian assistance in Sudan, as measures taken by the Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are having an impact on aid access, deliveries and services.

‘Overwhelmed’ health systems have little room for sick refugees, migrants, UN agencies warn

Four prominent United Nations system entities have called on countries to protect refugees, migrants, stateless persons and those forcibly displaced by disasters and conflict – some of the world’s most vulnerable populations – against the rapidly expanding COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: The global food supply chain is holding up, for now

The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic is so far having little impact on the global food supply chain, but that could change for the worse – and soon – if anxiety-driven panic by major food importers takes hold, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Friday.

Solidarity ‘vital’ to support developing countries through COVID-19 pandemic

Echoing the UN Secretary-General, the head of the UN office in Papua New Guinea, Gianluca Rampolla, has appealed to the world's developed countries to support the most vulnerable nations.

Mr. Rampolla warned of the devastating impacts that outbreaks could have on countries such as Papua New Guinea, noting that the landscape could shift rapidly, and dangerously, from a health emergency to a humanitarian disaster.

The  UN is supporting the southwest Pacific nation by providing technical assistance and vital equipment in preparation of a possible COVID-19 outbreak. 

Julia Dean from our office in Canberra spoke to Mr. Rampolla via Skype, and began by asked about the current situation there.

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UN chief urges unity in mobilizing ‘every ounce of energy’ to defeat coronavirus pandemic

There should be only one fight in our world today, the United Nations Secretary-General said on Friday, issuing a loud clarion call to join “our shared battle against COVID-19”.

Political prisoners should be among first released in pandemic response, says UN rights chief

The decision by many Governments to release prisoners to slow the transmission of new coronavirus, was welcomed on Friday by the UN’s top rights official, Michelle Bachelet

COVID-19: from conflict to pandemic, migrants in Bosnia face a new challenge

Migrants and refugees hosted at UN-run reception centres in Bosnia-Herzegovina, are learning to cope with the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Everyone at risk’ as coronavirus cases tick up among migrants and refugees sheltering in Greece

With 23 migrants at an open accommodation site in central Greece testing positive for COVID-19, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) sounded the alarm on Thursday over conditions in crowded reception centres on five Greek islands where the virus risks taking hold.

COVID-19 crisis ‘unlike any we have dealt with’, as new tragedy looms for Syria

The risk of the COVID-19 pandemic having a devastating impact on war-torn Syria is intensifying, where six million are displaced, living in conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to the deadly virus, the Senior Humanitarian Advisor to the UN Special Envoy to Syria warned on Thursday.

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.