WHO: Nations with falling Covid cases must stay alert
November 28 2020 12:40 AM
Chairs are seen in the waiting area of a mass coronavirus testing station operated by the Austrian a
Chairs are seen in the waiting area of a mass coronavirus testing station operated by the Austrian armed forces in Korneuburg, Austria.

Reuters/AFP Geneva

Even if countries see a fall in coronavirus cases, they need to stay vigilant, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s technical lead for Covid-19, said yesterday.
The Covid-19 respiratory disease is caused by the coronavirus.
“What we don’t want to see is situations where you are moving from lockdown to bringing (the virus) under control to another lockdown,” she told a virtual briefing in Geneva.
Nearly 61mn people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally, and 1.4mn have died, according to a Reuters tally.
“It is in our power to keep transmission low,” Kerkhove said. “We have seen dozens of countries show us that it can be brought under control and kept under control.”
Meanwhile, the WHO’s director of immunisation vaccines and biologicals, Kate O’Brien, has said that the UN agency needs to evaluate coronavirus vaccines and their immune responses based on more than just a press release.
AstraZeneca is likely to run an additional global trial to assess the efficacy of its vaccine using a lower dosage, its chief executive was quoted as saying on Thursday, amid questions over the results of its late-stage study.
And yesterday WHO assistant director-general Mariangela Simao has said that the agency needs to see clinical data and information of good manufacturing practice to be able to evaluate Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is more than 90% effective, a representative of the health ministry said this month, citing data collated from vaccinations of the public, rather than from an ongoing trial.
Italy meanwhile will ease coronavirus restrictions in five regions from tomorrow, including in the country’s richest and most populous region Lombardy, the health ministry said.
Lombardy, Piedmont and Calabria will be downgraded from red to orange zones, while Sicily and Liguria will drop from the orange to the yellow zone, which has least restrictions.
Yesterday’s decision follows a gradual decline in hospitalisations from coronavirus in much of Italy over the past week, with the number of new cases also retreating from highs seen earlier this month.
Italy introduced a three-tier zoning system three weeks ago with calibrated curbs depending on a variety of factors, including infection rates and hospital occupancy.
Abruzzo, Campania, Tuscany, Valle d’Aosta and Bolzano province will all remain in the red zone for now, while Basilicata, Emilia Romagna, Fruili, the Marches, Puglia and Umbria will still be orange.
Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus in February, with the outbreak only coming under control after a months-long national lockdown.
After a summer lull, infections soared again in October, forcing new government curbs.
As of yesterday, 53,677 people have died as a result of the disease in Italy, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain.
It has also registered some 1.538mn cases.
Turkey’s daily Covid-19 death toll hit a record high for a fifth consecutive day at 177, data from the health ministry showed yesterday.
Turkey also recorded a new high of 29,845 coronavirus infections in the space of 24 hours, including asymptomatic ones.
However, from July until Wednesday, Ankara had only reported symptomatic cases, of which there were 6,592 yesterday.
The total number of deaths stood at 13,191.
Historical data and the cumulative number of all cases were not available.
Russia’s military has started a mass coronavirus vaccination campaign which aims to inoculate more than 400,000 servicemen, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced yesterday.
He said that more than 2,500 soldiers had already been vaccinated, adding that by the end of the year the number is expected to reach 80,000.
The minister did not specify whether vaccination will be voluntary for soldiers, many of whom are drafted into the army for compulsory service.
Cyprus announced yesterday that it would lift lockdowns in two key coastal cities but impose a nationwide eight-hour night-time curfew among other uniform restrictions to tackle rising coronavirus cases.
A nationwide curfew will apply between the hours of 9pm and 5am (1900 GMT to 0300 GMT) from November 30 until December 13, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said.
This brings to an end a two-tier curfew system, which had seen the capital Nicosia and other towns under curfew for six hours each night from 11pm.
Limassol and Paphos – both areas where caseloads have been high – will have their lockdowns lifted at the end of November, after a near-total prohibition on movements in and out of those coastal resort cities and their wider districts.

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