As COVID-19 spread accelerates, IHR Emergency Committee urges focus on measures that work

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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COVID-19 pandemic still constituted a public health emergency

Geneva, Switzerland, 30 October 2020 — The Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met on 29 October to review the situation and progress made on the temporary recommendations.  They advised that the pandemic still constituted a public health emergency of international concern, and urged a focus on response efforts based on lessons learned and strong science.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accepted the advice of the committee, stating that

“WHO will continue to work in partnership across the world to drive science, solutions and solidarity.”

The committee expressed appreciation for WHO’s leadership and activities throughout the global response, including its critical role in developing evidence-based guidance, providing countries with technical assistance and critical supplies and equipment, communicating clear information and addressing misinformation, and convening the Solidarity Trials and the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

The committee provided concrete and targeted advice for WHO and countries to focus on in the coming months. It emphasized the importance of evidence-informed, risk-based and coherent measures in relation to international traffic, surveillance and contract tracing efforts, maintaining essential health services including mental health services, and preparing plans for future COVID-19 vaccines. The committee urged countries to avoid politicization of the pandemic response, seen as a major detriment to global efforts.

As the committee convened for the fifth time, globally reported cases had reached 44 million, with over 1.1 million people have lost their lives to COVID-19.

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