WHO to identify animal source of COVID-19 – DG

WHO chief, Tedros Ghebrelyesus

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), says the agency will work with relevant organisations to identify the animal source of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) based on Emergency Committee recommendations.

Ghebreyesus made this known at the agency’s twitter account, @WHO, saying that he reconvened the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations to review the pandemic.

“We accept the committee’s advice that WHO works to identify the animal source of the virus through international scientific and collaborative missions.

“We will do that in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

“We will continue supporting countries to sustain essential health services, including vaccination, care for women during pregnancy and childbirth, and care for non-communicable diseases, including mental health conditions.

“Also, WHO will continue supporting all countries with technical and logistical support, especially those that need it most,” he said.

Meanwhile, at news conference on Friday in Geneva, the director-general said he reconvened the meeting of the committee to further review the pandemic and suggest way forward.

In his speech posted on WHO website, Ghebreyesus said he had earlier declared COVID-19 as global health emergency- WHO’s highest level of alarm- based on the committee recommendations.

“Yesterday, I reconvened the Emergency Committee to review the evolution of the pandemic and advise me accordingly.

“The committee consists of independent, international experts, representing all regions and the full range of relevant expertise.

“I will like to thank the Chair of the Committee, Prof. Didier Houssin, and all the committee members; of course, the pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern.

“The committee has made several recommendations for WHO and for countries,’’ the director-general said.

Ghebreyesus appreciated the confidence and trust expressed by the committee in WHO to continue to lead and coordinate the global response to the pandemic, in collaboration with countries and partners.

“We are committed to fulfilling that role, and to accelerating our efforts.

“As we have done clearly from the beginning, we will continue to call on countries to implement a comprehensive package of measures to find, isolate, test and treat every case, and trace every contact.

“We will continue working with countries and partners to enable essential travel needed for pandemic response, humanitarian relief and cargo operations, and for countries, to gradually resume normal passenger travel.

“As Houssin explained, the committee has also made recommendations for countries, and we encourage countries to pay careful attention to that advice.

“And, we encourage countries to follow WHO’s advice, which we are constantly reviewing and updating as we learn more about the virus, and as we learn more from countries about best practices for responding to it,’’ he said.

The director-general said he would reconvene the Emergency Committee again in 90 days or sooner, if needed, in accordance with the International Health Regulations.