World Health Organisation (WHO) says the international community has launched a $675 million preparedness and response plan covering the months of February through to April 2020, to further curtail the spread of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China and globally.
WHO, which disclosed this in a statement issued from its headquarters in Geneva on Thursday, also said urgent support was needed to protect vulnerable countries from outbreak.
“My biggest worry is that there are countries today who do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted with the virus, even if it were to emerge.
“Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
According to the statement, the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for the new coronavirus lays out activities and resources needed by international health organisations globally, including WHO.
“The plan will help health organisations globally to implement priority public health measures in support of countries to prepare and respond to nCoV-2019 for a period February-April 2020.
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“The objectives of the plan are to limit human-to-human transmission of the virus, particularly in countries most vulnerable if they were to face an outbreak; identify and isolate and care for patients early.
“It also communicates critical risk and event information; minimize social and economic impact; reduce virus spread from animal sources; and address crucial unknowns.
“The plan focuses on: Rapidly establishing international coordination and operational support; Scaling up country readiness and response operations; Accelerating priority research and innovation.’’
The statement further quoted head of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Mike Ryan as saying “the effectiveness of outbreak response depends on the preparedness measures put in place before outbreaks strike.
“That is why we are seeking resources to safeguard the most vulnerable countries to protect people from the new coronavirus before it arrives on the doorstep.”
As noted in the SPRP, it stated that WHO assessed that the outbreak posed a very high risk in China and high risk regionally and globally.
It stated that the risk assessment was based on factors including the likelihood of further spread, the potential impact on human health, and the varying levels of effectiveness in national preparedness and response measures.
“Accelerated action, as called for in the plan, can address these risks and areas requiring support,’’ it stated.
As of February 5, 25 countries have reported confirmed cases of the new coronavirus including China where 24,363 people had contracted the virus, or over 99 per cent of all cases.
In all other countries, 191 cases have contracted the virus.