WHO urges some high-income countries to share data on novel coronavirus outbreak
The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated its call on Tuesday for countries not to impose restrictions that could ignite "fear and stigma," urging some high-income nations to better share information in the fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Amid the 146th session of the WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that a global research meeting will convene next week to identify research priorities in all areas of the outbreak, from identifying the source of the virus to developing vaccines and therapeutics.
"This is still first and foremost an emergency for China," Tedros said, underlining that 99 percent of the cases are in China and 97 percent of deaths in Hubei province.
While reassuring that the WHO is to continue working closely with the Chinese government against the outbreak, Tedros said that a team of international experts are heading to China to better understand and guide the global response against the outbreak.
As part of its efforts, the WHO also vowed to counter rumors and misinformation during the outbreak to ensure that all people receive accurate, reliable information for their better protection.
"I have three key requests for member states," Tedros appealed.
Firstly, all member states need to share detailed information of the outbreak as part of their responsibilities under the International Health Regulations (IHR). The WHO chief said that some high-income countries are well behind in sharing their vital data.
"I don't think it's because they lack capacity," he said, adding that he is writing to all ministers of health to request an immediate improvement in data sharing.
Secondly, all countries should not impose restrictions inconsistent with IHR, which he said "can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit."
And thirdly, he called for rapid collaboration between the public and private sectors to develop diagnostics, medicines and vaccines.
Because 99 percent of cases are in China and only one percent elsewhere globally so far, "that doesn't mean that it won't get worse," Tedros said.
"There is a window of opportunity because of the measures China has used at the epicenter, at the source. Let's not miss this window of opportunity," Tedros said.
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