Q&A on COVID-19 vs flu #askWHO with WHO's Dr Sylvie Briand
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Hello, everyone. My name is Christopher BLOCK and welcome to this Q&A session live from WTO headquarters here in Geneva, Switzerland. I'm so happy to be joined today by one of our experts here, Dr. Sylvia Bethune. Welcome, Sylvie. Bienvenido. I wonder if you could tell our audience a little bit about yourself. What do you do here at the bureau? OK.

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So I'm Dr. saji Brown. I work at DEVILRY. Chew on epidemic and pandemic diseases. I, uh, currently I'm very busy with the Gorvy 19 disease. But in the past, I also used to work on the influenza influenza pandemic in particular in 2009, 2010. And that's exactly what we're going to be talking about today because we've seen a lot of questions in social media things. People come into our Web sites, questions coming up from journalists and press conferences asking about the similarities between this new coronavirus, COBRA 19 and flu.

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And so we thought it'd be a great time to talk a little bit about the similarities and the differences in these two diseases.

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And so thank you for joining. We're gonna go and we're going to unpack these two issues. In the meantime, if you want to ask a question to Sylvie, Dr. Preowned, just put a question in the comments section or whatever platform you're watching us on and tell us where you're coming from. Tell us your name and tell us what's on your mind. So thank you for joining. So, Dr. Bailey, when we talk about flu, we're really meeting most times.

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So, you know, influenza and you tell our viewers what is seasonal influenza.

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Well, that first influenza is due to a virus, actually a family of viruses. And those viruses tend to circulate in human population of temperate climates. So that's why we see often epidemic of influenza during the winter season or cold season, depending where you live. And it's a respiratory disease. So it gives you cough, runny nose, fever. Messrs. Eik. And. And symptoms that are common to most of respiratory disease. Basically, flu is something that many people take a little bit lightheartedly in a way.

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But it's actually something that has profound impacts on countries and on families. It's something that can be quite, quite harmful. Is that true?

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It's true, actually, because people get used to seasonal flu epidemic. They feel that, well, it's it's not very important. And because it's something they know. But actually, a flu tend to kill between 250000 to 650000 people every year on her side. And some people are more likely to get severe disease. And if they don't get good treatment, they can die from it. And flu, influenza, we can protect people with the vaccine. Yes.

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So there is a vaccine every year that is produced. It's a bit of a tricky disease because as you know, it's a family of viruses. So every year we need to look at what are the viruses circulating and we need to develop the vaccine to target those particular viruses. And this is why is the composition of the vaccine changes every year. Thank you so much. So, no, as many people know and think, it's something that people have been asking questions on.

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We have a new Corona virus and that's called Colvard 19. So what are corona viruses and what is this, Corbitt 19.

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So Corneau viruses are viruses. It's also familial viruses. We have common coronaviruses, the four types that are also circulating and sometimes at the same time as a flu viruses. And so they also give some kind of common cold. But then we have other coronate viruses that are a bit different because those coronaviruses are most of the time originated from animals. And so they are not exactly like human coronaviruses. They have specificities that make them a little bit more dangerous.

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And we had the experience in 2003 with the source which emerged in Asia and then in twenty twelve thirteen with Murse, which emerged in the Middle East. And this year we do have covered 19 again, apparently has emerged also in Asia. And it's a new virus to humans.

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It's a new virus probably this virus was circulating in animals and then suddenly it jumped to one or two humans and started to spread from human to human.

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Thank you, doctor. Beyond. So if you're joining us a little bit later, we're looking at similarities and differences between this new coronavirus covered 19. Flu or seasonal influenza? You can if you have any questions for Dr. Breo. Put them in the comments section of whichever platform you're watching is on. And if you're watching it on Twitter, you can use the hashtag. Ask W.H.O.. So I have a few questions for you myself. Dr. Brill is covered 19, spread the same way as flu.

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So giving 19 is a very new disease. And so we are still investigating all the way. It can be spread between people. But from the initial observations we have seen in China, it seemed that Flu and Cauvin, 19 of the same way of transmitting and these are two respiratory viruses. And so they transmit when somebody cough or sneeze or speak and it's transmitted by small droplets of humidity that you have in your mouth and it goes to the other person.

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But these droplets cannot travel very far. So you need to be very close to people to get infected. Those droplets as well can drop on some surfaces. And if somebody comes and touch the surfaces after you have spoken or cough, then this person touches the surfaces with the end and then the hand is contaminated. And then if this person touches the face of the mouth of the nose with the contaminated hand, the person can get the virus. So with influenza, we have a vaccine to protect ourselves with covered 19.

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We don't currently have a vaccine. So how can people protect themselves from Corbitt 19?

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So actually the measure to protect ourselves for both viruses are similar because we recommend therefore to protect yourself by washing your hands very regularly, because then if you cannot, if your hands are contaminated, you will not puccio the virus in your eyes, your mouth or your nose. We recommend also when somebody is showing respiratory symptoms, coughing, sneezing to stay home and to rest until they recover. And if you see somebody showing symptoms, it's better to stay one meter away so that you are not getting the virus through through droplets.

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Also, what is important for people who are sick. They can also protect yourself by wearing a mask. But again, the best way to protect users is also to stay home and try to not be in contact with the older at least more than one meter so that you don't transmit the virus. So this is something we're seeing a lot of questions about. When should I wear a mask or when should I not wear a mask? So if I understand you correctly, you're saying if I'm sick, I should be wearing a mask to help protect the people around me?

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That's the general rule.

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Yeah, I think we can say as a surgeon or rule, I think it's not necessary for everybody to wear a mask for two reason. First reason, because we don't have enough masks for everyone and we need to reserve those mikes for the people who really need it and the people we need it, other people who are really exposed to a very sick patient. And this is the lcn workers and nurses and doctors and all the people working closely with patients.

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And secondly, because sometimes when you wear a mask first, if you wear it for many hours, you will see is not very comfortable and you tend to do mistakes. And instead of being more cautious, you tend to forget that what is most important is to have a clean ends, because even with the mask, you can still touch your eyes and still get the contamination through the eyes. So it's better to just be aware. Wash your hands frequently and you will be better protected than badly wearing a mask, basically.

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Thank you so much, Dr. Bill. So why we're getting so many questions from everyone here. Thank you so much for your questions and your enthusiasm on this. We will try to get to as many as we can in the time we have. And I'm from originally from Canada. So I'm going take the first question from Canada, from Patricia Compton in Alberta. Is asking, is COBRA 19 only a winter virus? And that way, will it disappear once the warm weather comes, which in Alberta sometime in July?

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So is it a warm. Is it a cold winter cold weather virus, cold at night? Well, this is something we don't know yet. We really don't know because because we are still in winter in many places of the world where we have seen the virus. What some studies have been done on with Unkovic, 19 in laboratory, we we try now to investigate what are the elements in the. Made the humidity, the heat and so on that can influence the survival of the virus.

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But we need to see what will happen in summer. What happens usually with respiratory viruses in summer is that people tend to go more outside and houses tend to be more ventilated because it's hot. And so probably this helps to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses.

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So something you mentioned there brings about to me that we just have to also remember that this Kobe 19 is a new virus. So we're learning more about it every day. Where is influenza is something that we've been studying. Learning about it for many, many years. And that's another similarity, a difference between the two. So we have a question from in terms of that, when we got to how to prevent cover 19 from getting to countries with a question from David Maunder, who was asking about African countries specifically.

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Are there any countries that are safe from covert 19 transmission arriving to their country?

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I think yeah, it's it's a good question, really. I hope that many countries would be safe from 19 when we have been able to contain the virus where it is currently. And this is why we encourage countries to put in place the strong measures now so that it can stop we can stop the transmission now. But if it doesn't work, then the virus may continue to travel and travel to other places. And currently what we have seen is that the virus has trouble with travelers.

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But at the same time, it's very hard to stop all the travel. Longhurst Because movement is part of life. And if you stop movement, then our life will be very different and we may suffer a lot more from from these than from the disease itself. So currently what is really difficult is to find the right balance between maintaining a normal life and protecting people. And we are looking at all the options that are available to maintain this balance. Right.

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So somebody mentioned there about containing Kobe 19. We do contain influenza. Is that right? Is that another difference or why is that?

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Yeah, it's very difficult to contain. And friends are for two reason. The first reason is that some people will be with influenza infected with influenza viruses, don't show symptoms and will transmit the disease even if they don't feel sick. So they won't stay at home because they are fine. And so they will go home and meet with friends and families and transmit the virus. So very hard to stop the virus in those conditions. And the other situation is as well that influenza generates immunity.

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And so those viruses is it's a big family of viruses that are always somehow circulating. So we would then to let them circulate, but protect the people who are most at risk to do severe disease. And this is a strategy that is slightly different. Then focus in 19.

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Thank you so much, Dr. Beyond. So we're getting lots of questions about travel. This is really on people's minds. So people are asking really simple questions like, should I be traveling now? So you mentioned this a little bit, but let's say I people do travel. We have Lola Ramos saying she's just returned troops. She just returned from France to United States. And she's worried. Should she stay at home? Should she go visit people? What would your advice to people be who who have been traveling, who haven't, as far as we know, come into contact with people who are sick, recover?

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So currently in the world, we have many different epidemics. Some may be in times of size and intensity. Some countries, they have just four cases. So I think if you have visited those country, your risk is extremely low. And so you shouldn't be afraid and you should just go home and and just to monitor your health. And if you feel bad and sick, you stay home and you seek for medical advice. But other people will travel to countries where there is already kind of intense transmission and there are not so many countries actually currently.

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So. And so if you have visited those countries, then you may be a little bit more cautious when you come back because you may pay more attention to your fever and check it maybe once or twice a day just to make sure that you are still safe and do it for 14 days, for instance. So in terms of where people can get more information, W.H.O., his website is a good source for global information, for specific information if you're in other countries.

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There are national. Service would be a good, good place to start. Ministry of Health. For example, in the US we've got CDC, Ellenbogen, NHS. Where else can people get information?

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Yeah, I think in many countries now are not only providing information through their technical agency. And this is often complex information. I would say very detailed. But you have also hotlines in many countries where you can call and get a rapid advice and you can check on many websites. I think now there is a lot of of advice and and and to I think there are plenty of sources. We have also developed a page called Eppy win- where you can find specific advice if you are an employee a year and you want to protect your employee or issue you ha faith based organization and you want to undertake safe gathering's, etc.

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so different.

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Can you find that from going from the WTO side or is it ever separate?

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No, it's linked to WTO just like W W W W joined that I.A. and we have information on all of our six languages and some other languages developed more of the better on that. So going back to the travel in a way, if a question from Panama and she's asking in terms of Corbitt 19, how does the disease start? And do people get symptoms? All of this, all the symptoms at the same time, there's fever, there's cough, hard to breathe.

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Everything happened the same time. Or is it? Do we know is a different each person different in different situations?

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So actually, it depends on the people. But we have a triad that is. So the order of the symptom, they may depend. But people will show symptoms may have a rapidly the three symptoms. So it's a fever. And sometimes the fever come after the cough, dry cough and certain shortness of breath, which shows that your sense that your Pullman and your lungs sorry, your lungs are are infected. So ACSU symptom. But then you have other symptoms, like some in 4 percent of the case, people are vomiting, sometimes have diarrhea.

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But these aren't really uncommon symptoms. So I think and fatigue, of course. But fatigue is really common to any viral infection. So it's hard to give advice to individuals in many different situations. But generally, people should seek medical advice if they have any of these symptoms or all of the symptoms.

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So you need to do your own risk assessment issue. I've traveled to a place where there is intense transmission of the disease. Of course, you are more likely to get Gorvy 19 than flu, although respiratory viruses. So in this case, of course, you need to pay attention to those symptoms. And if you have any doubt that you might have Cauvin 19, call your general practitioner or some hotline to get advice on how to behave and where to seek medical attention.

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And and I think and don't panic or stress, because most of the cases of Cauvin 19 now mind more than 80 percent. And even now, with the large epidemic we have seen in China, 96 percent or more of the people will recover from the disease. Thank you so much, Doctor. So if you're joining us, the middle of our show here, this is a question and answer session with Dr. Soubry Beyong. And we're coming to you live from WTO headquarters in Geneva.

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You can ask your questions in the comment box depending on which platform you're watching his on. And if you're on Twitter, it's hashtag. I should ask W.H.O.. We have a question from Theresa, Iowa, and she's asking what age groups are more likely to be affected by Corbitt, 19. And I'm going to add a little bit onto that. And is so is that also different for influenza? Yeah.

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So apparently from the data we got from the first affected countries, the median age, I mean, the easy ones, the 50s. And so the most affected people is above 40 to very old people. And more than 80 years old and and and young adults are the children are less affected. Also, what we have seen up to now is that really the people will have more severe form of the disease, which will require hospitalization. Also, people at the older age or people with underlying conditions such as I pretention, cardiovascular disease, cancer or any other immuno deficiencies.

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On the contrary, for Cauvin 19, we see very few children with the disease and most of the children are very mild disease. So this is very different from. Flu because in flu we see boys and of the age of the life course affected the very young kids and the elderly are often more affected by the disease and they do very severe form of the disease as well. And in flu as well, we see that pregnant women are more at risk of severe disease and their baby as well.

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While so far we have not seen these with Cauvin 19.

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Thank you to your question. Interesting question from Mary Calder's. And I'm sure this is something that a lot of people are sensing, a lot of people are feeling. She says she's scared of Corbitt, 19. Should we be scared? Could you give some advice to Mary to to help her work through this these feelings?

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I think it's normal to fear as this disease, because it's a new disease. And frankly, we know still we know more than we knew two months ago, Major, still a lot of unknown about the disease.

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But as time goes by, we know more and more. And our advice are more and more accurate, I think. And Sue. But what is interesting is to know that it's a respiratory viruses. So it's not the first when we have seen in this is tree of humanity. And it probably will not be the last one either. And so I think precautionary measure we use for any respiratory viruses that are transmitted from human to human are valid for this disease.

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And so I think if people applies those measures conscientiously and help their family and their neighbor and their friend to apply similar measures, I think it's that many people will be protected. And what is very important. I think it's a way of greeting people because we need to change something about how we do it. For example, chicken hands is a bit dangerous nowadays, but then you can invent new ways of greeting that can show your love or your friendship to others.

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But at the same time, make sure that you are protected against respiratory viruses.

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Thank you, doctor. We're getting quite a few questions about commuting and public transport systems here in Europe is the end of the working day. People are heading home on the bus. I'm sure some people are watching this on online from trains and other things as they're going home from work or going to work in other parts of the world.

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What advice do you have for food, for safe daily travelers who are traveling often and maybe cramped conditions and sometimes when in the winter months? Yes.

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I think when when you are in a country where there is intense transmission and footbridges of origin provided guidance on that and how to reduce the density of population, I would say in public transport or in a bigger mass gathering events and so on. And what I think it's it's there are two fold of this that we need. First, people who are again, sure, respiratory symptom, stay home and if possible, do teleworking while you have symptoms. Maybe it's not coughing 19.

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It's just a seasonal flu or other respiratory disease. But still, it's better to protect yourself and others to stay home and rest while you have those symptoms. For the people who are obliged to take public transport again, wash your hands repeatedly because this is most likely to happen through your hands. Even in this type of setting and and watch your health and if you see symptoms again, stay home and rest.

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Like you. Thank you for everyone who had that question. That's we're getting quite a few people asking about vaccines. Do we know when a vaccine will be available for corporate 19, for example?

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So currently there are many a research group in the world while developing what we call candidate vaccine. So it's a it's a product that seems to have the right efficacy, but it's just the first phase of the development of a vaccine, because once you have a candidate vaccine, then you need to test this vaccine for a safety, making sure that the vaccine will not produce adverse effect that are not desirable. And once you have the safety, then you have to test it also to make sure that indeed it protects really against the disease enough at least to be distributed largely.

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And you need also to make sure that certain specific groups like pregnant woman or young kids can also receive the vaccine. So there are a number of stage in the vaccine development and distribution that needs to be observed to make sure that once we have this product, it's really a good product that will make a difference. So in the meantime, that's why we need to observe precautionary measures that will still protect. Most of us in a very efficient way, and I think we'll take the chance to repeat those precautionary measures.

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So how can people best protect themselves against corporate 19?

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OK. So please wash your hands repeatedly during the day. And second, if you are sick, protect your zaza's by staying home. If you have cough or runny nose, you have got to do it in your elbow. Also, to protect theothers, a runny nose, use a tissue and dispose the tissue in the clothes, dustbin and rest as much as you can. And if you are sick, stay home.

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Thank you so much. Let's see what else we're getting near the end of this. Unfortunately so. But I've got so many questions. I don't even know where to start. Here's a good Meana Braulio, which is is it possible to be reinfected with the Corona virus? So if you've had it once, mild symptoms and you've you know, the time has gone on, you've recovered. Can you catch it again?

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So. So this is a good question, because many researchers are currently looking at it and trying to understand if people can be reinfected. What is true is that some people want the disease tested negative, were discharged from hospital. And few days later, when they are tested again, they test positive. And we don't know if this is due to the test. That's because the test detect only dead viruses, because it's a specific test that or if the virus is still there and they're alive and people have been reinfected.

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So this is the first question and we are working on it now. The second part of your question is that if I am infected, will I develop antibodies so that I can do the disease again? So, again, this is an important question that researchers are really looking at it. Right now, we are just developing the tests that allow us to see how many antibodies you have in your body. So it's called serology. So when we have those tests, we will be able to look at really the people where sick, how many antibodies they have and does this protects for further disease.

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But what we have seen in in in China and Chinese doctors I've already mentioned it is at issue new use of plasma of convalescent people and inject it in in people who are sick. It seemed that it helps them to recover. So it's very likely that we develop antibodies and those antibodies can protect or so others from did the disease and probably protect our asset from getting reinfected. But these are still very early stage of the discovery. And we need more data to affirm that if we are really protected.

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Thank you, doctor. So, again, if you're joining us a little bit late, we've been talking a bit about covered 19 and influenza or flu. We're looking at their similarities and their differences. I'm wondering if you could just sum up one last time for our viewers if people joined us a little bit late. The main things that you want them to remember between Cuba 19 and flu. Okay. So the two diseases are due to viruses. These are respiratory viruses.

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They are transmitted by droplets. When you speak, you cough, you sneeze. That also can be transmitted by when you touch surfaces. So that's why to protect yourself, you need to wash your hands. You need to cough in your elbow, sneeze in a tissue and dispose safely the tissue. And if you are sick, stay at home, isolate yourself. And if you need to protect better, the other, wear a mask and and rest and try to take it with a lot of serenity.

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Because, again, as I said, 80 percent of the cases are mild and 90 is more than 96 percent of people will recover from this disease. In 19 and 4 flu, if you are in the at risk group, please get vaccinated before the flu season because the vaccine protects you. And for flu, if you are sick, we also have antiviral treatment that can treat you. So there is a lot of hope in modern medicine. So don't be too fearful and and just let's fight this disease together.

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I think that's a really important message. Thank you so much, Dr.. Thank you to everyone who joined us from all around the world. We we had so many. Questions we only got to a fraction of them will try to answer some as many as we can in the comments, boxes are excerpts. We'll get back to you. And we're going to be doing these much more and more often because we really appreciate people's questions and we appreciate this opportunity to communicate with you all around the world.

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The list of countries is so long. We're going to try.

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OK, big breath. Panama. Nigeria. United Kingdom. Tanzania. India. Colombia. Spain. USA, Mexico. Egypt. Dubai. Turkey. South Africa. Sweden. Sudan. Iraq. Ecuador. Iraq. Again. Bhutan. Yemen. Lebanon. Italy. Lithuania. You know, Denver. United Arab Emirates. Ukraine. Canada. Salvador. France. Portugal. China. Zambia. Slovakia. Denmark. Ghana. Brazil. Saudi Arabia. Algeria.

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Mauritius. Cameroon. Switzerland. Serbia. Jamaica. Bahrain. Pakistan. Germany. Sierra Leone. Qatar. Argentina. You're Puerto Rico. Senegal. Uganda. Jordan. Tunisia. Peru. Barbados. Indonesia. As Austria. Northern Macedonia. Estonia. I had to click read more and so many. Greece and Rwanda that 62 countries would have to be listing the countries that haven't joined us. That might be quicker. If you want to get more information on Cauvin 19 or influenza, it's w w w w h o dot IMT.

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Thank you, Dr. Breo, for joining us. Thank you, everyone. All around the world for joining us. We look forward to talking to you again soon. Have a good day. Evening. Morning. And we'll be in touch soon. Goodbye. Goodbye. Thank you.