The world health body, WHO, on Monday condemned the lack of urgency on the part of many countries in combating the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

At a briefing in Geneva, the Director-General, WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said many countries are not taking testing, isolation and contact tracing (carefully monitoring people who are in close contact with someone who has been infected) seriously. Instead, they are quick to place restrictions on social gatherings.

Mr Ghebreyesus acknowledged that cases of Covid-19 are rapidly escalating because many countries are putting the cart before the horse in their approach to tackling the virus. He said most countries are quick in banning social engagement while they are not doing enough to conduct testing, isolation and contact tracing.

“We have also seen a rapid escalation in social distancing measures, like closing schools and cancelling sporting events and other gatherings. But, we have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing – which is the backbone of the response. Social distancing measures can help to reduce transmission and enable health systems to cope,” he said.

Mr Ghebreyesus emphasised that testing, isolation and contact tracing are the key ways countries can fight the scourge of the disease.

“As I keep saying, all countries must take a comprehensive approach. You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.

He said the most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission. And to do that, you must test and isolate. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case.

“If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too,” he said.

He explained that more test kits are being produced to meet global demand. WHO said it has shipped almost 1.5 million test kits to 120 countries and is working with companies to increase the availability of tests for those most in need.

The agency also advised that all confirmed cases, even mild cases, should be isolated in health facilities, to prevent transmission and provide adequate care.

Since the global spread of COVID19, many countries have been banning social gatherings, closing schools and locking down communities or areas in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Some of the countries which have taken such measures include; Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Malaysia, Thailand among others.

While the UN agency said it was a move that could reduce the spread of the virus, it, however, said much cannot be achieved until testing, isolation and contact tracing are implemented effectively.

There are increasingly new numbers of cases across the world. As of Tuesday, 8:10 GMT, about 183,065 confirmed cases have been reported in 162 countries with 7,175 deaths.

Meanwhile, while cases in China have been slowing down, cases are erratically increasing across countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Germany, UK, U.S. and Switzerland.

Currently, over 89,000 people infected are in mild condition and over 6,000 are in serious or critical condition. However, all is not bad news as over 87, 000 people have been treated and have recovered from the virus.

The director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the new name of coronavirus at Geneva on Tuesday, February 12. 

The coronavirus disease causing a deadly outbreak in China has been named COVID-19.

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has named the virus itself SARS-CoV-2 after a similar but more deadly bug discovered in China in 2002.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” Tedros told reporters. It also gives a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreak.

Tedros said the agency wanted to avoid stigmatizing a country or particular group, so it chose a name that did not refer to a geographical location, animals, an individual or a group of people.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said the acronym allows for flexibility for naming new coronaviruses that may emerge in the future.

“Coronavirus is a group of viruses that are quite common,” Swaminathan said. There are many known strains of coronavirus. It is possible that there will be another strain of coronavirus. Then that could also be named by the year it appeared.

“It’s important to have a name that everybody uses — both for scientific purposes to compare … and also to avoid a number of different stigmatizing or other forms of confusing names,” she added.

TheWorld Health Organization (WHO) has announced that, for the first time, that it spent nearly 1.4 billion dollars annually on efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

WHO made this announcement as part of activities organised to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, the practice of altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

The costs of FGM, is said to be associated with gynecological, obstetric, urological, mental and sexual, and the immediate health complications, can make up to 30 per cent of the health budget in some countries.

WHO described FGM as a violation of human rights and an extreme form of gender discrimination.

Ian Askew, Director of WHO Sexual Health Department stated that FGM is not only an abuse of human rights that harms the physical/mental health of millions of girls/women, it is also a drain on a country’s economy.

“More investment is urgently needed to stop FGM and end the suffering it inflicts. At least 200 million girls and women alive today, living in 31 countries, have undergone FGM. The practice is widespread in some countries in Africa, the Middle East and also Indonesia,” Askew explained.

Michel Yao, The World Health Organization’s Africa emergency response program manager advised health ministers in the region to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from mainland China.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda among other countries, is said to have started implementing surveillance and screening at airports, especially for travellers arriving from Wuhan in China where the outbreak began in December.

On  Wednesday Ivory Coast’s health ministry, said the suspected case of coronavirus in the country had tested negative.

It involved a student who had travelled from Beijing to Abidjan over the weekend had shown flu-like symptoms, ‘coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing’.

In a statement, the Ivorian health ministry said that tests by research institutes in Ivory Coast and France had come back negative for the virus. 

If the results had been positive, this would have been the first confirmed case in Africa.

According to the ministry, the 34-year-old student who was quarantined while tests were carried out is being treated for her symptoms and is recovering well.

Ghana’s Ministry of Health has designated two hospitals known as; the Ridge Hospital and the Tema General Hospital as centers to manage possible cases of coronavirus in the country, both facilities are in the Greater Accra region .

The Ministry, in a statement released said that this is part of the country’s plan to prevent and control any case that may be detected in the country and ultimately protect the Ghanaian population.

It explained that it has tightened the country’s emergency preparedness and response plan due to the rising number of infections from the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in other countries of the world.

Earlier, The Ministry had issued a statement that said all passengers from China must mandatorily fill health declaration forms. The Health Ministry has stepped up by the process by applying it to all international arrivals at Terminal 3 of Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

“Screening for fever using the walk-through thermometers and non-contact thermometers are ongoing at KIA and other points of entry. Efforts are underway to ensure that all points of entry have non-contact thermometers,” the Ministry added.

The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIR) has since been designated as a laboratory for investigating the virus it is said that it is well-resourced to diagnose coronavirus infection.

The Ministry also said it is strictly collaborating with the World Health Organization, Veterinary Services Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention among others to execute the country’s emergency response plan.