Over 900 people have now died in mainland China from the coronavirus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan. Meanwhile, the war against the widespread Coronavirus is being stalled by lack of protective equipment warns World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The U.N. agency has been distributing testing kits, masks, gloves, respirators and gowns to every area affected by the epidemic, Tedros reported to the WHO Executive Board in Geneva.
However, he cautioned the world that they might not be an adequate number of these. He requested countries not to stock protective suits that are severely needed in Chinese hospitals and applauded companies who had taken the initiative to supply surgical masks only to medical professionals.
I reiterate my call for calm.
I reiterate my call for solidarity – human, financial and scientific solidarity. Any breach in solidarity is a victory for the virus.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 9, 2020
“Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal and prices are up to 20 times higher. This situation has been exacerbated by widespread and inappropriate use of PPE outside patient care. As a result, there are now depleted stockpiles and backlogs of four to six months. Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient to meet the needs of WHO and our partners.”
There is a limit to the stock of PPE that W.H.O has and they have to make sure they get it to the people who needed it the most. W.H.O would discourage any hoarding of PPE in countries that have few coronavirus cases.
The WHO projected frontline workers would need approximately 7-10% of the world’s supply of surgical masks, and possibly more. “Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient to meet the needs of WHO and our partners,” Tedros said.
Some people in the streets are even wearing the N95 and other professional masks that healthcare workers need. He pointed out that masks are not always useful for the healthy general public and that they don’t necessarily protect people who haven’t contacted the disease. Although it is a different account if the person has the disease. Masks stop them from giving it to anybody else.
WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan said: “I think the bigger point here is to ensure that some of the actions, some of the reactions internationally, it is the responsibility of us all to ensure there is no stigma associated with this disease.”
“The unnecessary, unhelpful profiling of individuals based on ethnicity is utterly and completely unacceptable and it needs to stop. Governments have a responsibility to communicate with their populations on this,” He reported the board.
During its technical briefing for member states, they also discussed naming the virus – which appeared from a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. W.H.O has already allocated a temporary name of 2019-nCOV (novel coronavirus) acute respiratory disease.