WHO

Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne - New York Times

The WHO has said the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with Covid-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks.

In an open letter to the agency, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people, the newspaper reported.

Pacific Covid-19 cases rise: WHO

There are new confirmed cases in Papua New Guinea, its tenth, and Guam, where a spike in cases has taken its total to 231.

The total number of cases listed by the WHO for the region is 352 - an increase of 38 cases since last week.

The WHO says although infection rates are slowing in the Pacific, the crisis is far from over.

While most Pacific Island nations have no recorded cases, the WHO says in many parts of the region, the pandemic is only starting to make its presence felt.

Australia supports Tonga’s COVID-19 testing

The equipment arrived in the country yesterday (Thursday).

Tonga is one of twelve Pacific island countries receiving GeneXpert testing equipment provided by the World Health Organization, which over the coming months will allow samples to be tested in-country – in some for the first time. The GeneXpert testing system provides reliable results within 45 minutes.

WHO urges caution over lifting Covid-19 restrictions

The WHO's Western Pacific division held a media briefing this week to discuss the coronavirus.

Asked when regional countries might lift some restrictions imposed under their states of emergency, the WHO Regional Director Takeshi Kasai urged caution.

"When we consider lifting, we need a careful analysis of the situation And we should not lift everything all at once."

Dr Kasai said this applied to all countries, including those in the Pacific islands who had no reported cases of Covid-19.

President Donald Trump says US to halt World Health Organisation funding

He says had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China, the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak could have been contained.

"I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to access the World Health Organisation's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," Trump said.

"The WHO failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable...

"Many countries said they were going to listen to the WHO and they have problems now the likes of which they cannot believe," Trump said.

WHO says people in Pacific should be prepared for long-term battle

Takeshi Nakai warns the epidemic is far from over and people should be prepared for a long-term battle.

However, Dr Nakai said countries in Asia show there are successful ways of slowing the spread of the pandemic.

He said these include finding, isolating and testing cases early.

Dr Nakai said tracing and quarantining contacts quickly as well as stopping physical interaction is also proven to help.

Outbreak at 'decisive point' as WHO urges action

His comments come as countries around the world battle to prevent the virus spreading further.

For a second day, more cases have been reported outside than inside China.

Iran and Italy have become major centres of infection, with people travelling from there spreading the virus further afield.

Several high-profile Iranian officials have become infected, the latest being Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar.

"It's what's happening in the rest of the world that's now our greatest concern," Dr Tedros said.

World must prepare for pandemic, says WHO

The WHO said it was too early to call the outbreak a pandemic but countries should be "in a phase of preparedness".

A pandemic is when an infectious disease spreads easily from person to person in many parts of the world.

More cases of the virus, which causes respiratory disease Covid-19, continue to emerge, with outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran causing concern.

However, most infections are in China, the original source of the virus, where 77,000 people have the disease and nearly 2,600 have died. The number of new cases there is now falling.

Window of opportunity to act, World Health Organization says

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the steps taken by China to fight the virus at its epicentre were the best way of stopping its spread.

Meanwhile, China's envoy to the UN in Geneva told nations not to over-react.

At least 427 people have died with more than 20,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

The WHO has declared a global health emergency over the outbreak but said the virus did not yet constitute a "pandemic" - the worldwide spread of a new disease. Officials say 425 people have died in China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

Whole world 'must take action', warns WHO

Dr Mike Ryan praised China's response to the deadly outbreak, saying: "The challenge is great but the response has been massive."

The WHO will meet on Thursday to discuss whether the virus constitutes a global health emergency.

The Chinese city of Wuhan is the epicentre of the outbreak.

But the virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally, including Thailand, France, the US and Australia.

More than 130 people have died in China and close to 6,000 have been infected.