World Health Organization Coronavirus Update Transcript February 24: WHO Addresses Spread into Europe & Middle East
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He doesn't know why. And sorry for this delay. It's a very busy day here for us in Geneva. And that will make us have this press conference very short, shorter than the news. No journalist online. It's taking grace time to ask questions. Those de-linking star nine. Today we have Dr. Tetris, the facility behind Dr. Mike Brown that I don't really need to introduce specifically. Today, we will start with the questions from journalists online. This is because we need to set up a room and do another part of the building where we have a secretary general of the United Nations visiting W.H.O.

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. I will give a floor to look to better seriously for his opening remarks. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, Daddy. Ben Good afternoon, everyone. Let me start, as always with us. The latest numbers as of 6:00 a.m. during my time this morning, China has reported a total of seventy seven thousand three hundred sixty two cases of corbit 9 2 2 W.H.O., including two thousand six hundred eighteen deaths in the past 24 hours.

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China has reported 460 new confirmed cases and 150 does. We're encouraged by the continued decline in cases in China. Earlier today, the W.H.O. Joint China Joint Commission concluded its visit and delivered its report. As you know, the team has travelled to several different provinces, including your home. The team has made a range of findings about the transmissibility of the virus, the severity of the disease and the impact of the measures taken. They found that the epidemic peaked and plateaued between the 23rd of January and the second of February and has been declining steadily since then.

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They have found that there has been no significant change in the DNA of the virus, and they found that the fatality rate is between 2 percent and 4 percent in Walheim and 0.7 percent outside Mohun. They found that for people with mild disease recovery, time is about 2 weeks. Why people with severe or critical disease recover within three to six weeks. The team also estimate that the measures taken in China have averted a significant number of cases. The report contains a wealth of other information and highlights questions for which we still don't have answers and includes 24 recommendations.

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Dr. Bruce Ironworks will give more details tomorrow. On behalf of the joint team. But the key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence is that this virus can be contained. Indeed, there are many countries that have done exactly that outside China. There are now two thousand seventy four cases in 28 countries and 23. There's this sudden increase of cases in Italy. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning. There is a lot of speculation about whether this increase means that this epidemic has now become a pandemic.

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We understand why people ask that question.

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W.H.O., as you know, has already declared a public health emergency of international concern, the highest level of phyla.

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When there were less than 100 cases outside China and eight cases of human to human transmission, our decision about whether to use the word pandemic to describe an epidemic is based on an ongoing assessment of the geographical spread of the virus, the severity of disease it causes and the impact it has on the whole society. For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large scale severe disease or deaths that this virus have pandemic potential.

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Absolutely it has. Are we there yet from our assessment? Not yet. So how should we describe the current situation? What do we see? Epidemics in different parts of the world affecting countries in different ways and requiring a tailored response. The sudden increase in new cases is certainly very concerning. I have spoken consistently about the need for facts, not fear. Using the word pandemic now. Does not fit the facts, but it may certainly cause feel this is not the time to focus on what word we use that will not prevent a single infection today or save a single life today.

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This is a time for all countries, communities, families and individuals to focus on preparing. We do not live in a binary black and white world. It's not either or we must focus on containment while doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic. There is no one five size fits all approach. Every country must make its own risk assessment for its own context. W.H.O. is also continuing to do its own risk assessment and is monitoring the evolution of the epidemic around the clock.

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But there are at least three priorities. First, all countries must prioritize protecting health workers.

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Second, we must engage communities to protect people who are most at risk of severe disease, particularly the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. And so we must protect countries that are the most vulnerable. By doing our utmost to contain epidemics in countries with the capacity to do it. In the past few days, I have held meetings with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Indonesia, Cuba, the Republic of Korea, and I want to thank them for being to support their response.

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I also wish to thank the European Commission for its contribution of 232 million euros, which demonstrates the kind of global solidarity that gives me hope. France, Germany and Sweden have also announced additional contributions. This is a shared threat. We can only phase it together and we can only overcome it together when we act together. Countries regional and global health organisations, the media, the private sector and people everywhere are collective strengths is formidable. Alone we lose. Together we win.

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I thank you.

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Let's show the figures before we start with questions. Some of you may know Chinese health authorities have organized press conference at the end of the international expertise mission where Dr. Bruce or than the national counterparts have talked to you more than.

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Now. Sending you audio file from this press briefing so you can hear more about that.

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And with that, we will start with questions from showings online calling on political Phicorp. If you can hear a song and maybe introduce yourself.

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Yes. Hi, can you hear me? If you can just be a bit louder, but we can hear you.

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Yes. Hi, this is Ashton from Alaska. I just want to know if the contributions to the urgent funding is real and the time to install a page stage when they expect it to be received by the W.H.O..

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Thank you for that. Yes. The most of the funding is currently in pledged stage, but we do have mechanisms in-house for further pledges so we can begin to spend against those pledges immediately. And we are making arrangements with with Row, Row Thomas and Virgin Alison to do just that. So we should be able to start extending funds against firm changes in the coming days. Thank you very much. Just to remind everyone very short questions as we don't have much time.

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We are now calling on, as I said, we will take a few questions, go online first, because this has to go. Helen Brasso very fast. That's your question.

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Hi. Thank you very much for taking my question. I tried to listen to the audio from Beijing today and I were unclear at time whether done for A was recommending that other other countries take the measures that China is taking. Are you WAFL suggesting that when the buyers arrive in a new location, the countries should effectively tribe along Dallacroce that China has you?

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Like I said in my statement, Bruce will be giving a press statement tomorrow in Geneva. So I would think it would be better to attend that. Thank you.

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Thank you very much. Yes, we will have. We will have a do so with tomato factor. As I said, you can already listen for those who have not been listening, you can listen to what he has said as we are sending audio files. Let's go to CNN and China.

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If we can hear from from China. Hello. OK. We don't have CNN China. Let's then go go quickly to the room here.

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The party has to focus on the tiniest people. Two questions first about Iran. Just in case this is evidence, apparently there is a very high mortality rate compared to the number of cases of the number of deaths. It's really not that bad. And second question about this sort of record for any specific measures as far as exposure to this country. Thank you.

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Susan Smithson, a Middle East expert, NSDAP on the border. Thank you.

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And with regard to Iran, again, a little like it was originally the case in China, we need to be very careful in the first wave of infections in any newly affected country because we may only be detecting severe cases and the deaths will be overrepresented in that. We also need to be cognizant that the virus may have been there for longer than than we had previously suspected. We do know again and each and every country is a different dynamic. You so in Japan with the with to see princess, who you see with Singapore when they headed for Australia come first, there was exportation from that conference you've seen in the case of Iran really just gathering.

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So sometimes when you see an acceleration of cases of a spread from that, it doesn't necessarily represent the natural transmission dynamics of the virus. It's very much driven by the context, the context of a gathering and then people moving after. So the natural transmission dynamics are such that if you look at in most cases, for example, even in China are in family clusters. Most secondary cases occur in families. About one in 10 contacts become subsequently confirmed cases.

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And that's been driving the epidemic. There are very, very particular circumstances. So, again, we need to understand the exact dynamics of what has happened in Iran. But clearly, there have been gatherings for religious festivals and then people coming and then moving afterwards. So I think it's going to take another few days. We have a team arriving in Iran tomorrow and our regional director will actually be there tomorrow as well. And and the team arriving in Italy as we speak, and we're reaching out to all affected countries to ensure that they have the necessary technical assistance to understand the the specific context and the transmission dynamics they're observing.

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But again, I caution everybody, please don't extrapolate from one individual country experience. Each situation is different. Often, no, I think there are again. The European Union and Switzerland are merely European countries have been working closely together to maintain their their open borders and to manage this risk collectively again. I think I've said it in numerous press conferences. There is no zero risk in this. This is about good risk management is about good communication between states.

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It's about management and early detection of cases. And the report, serious isolation and treatment. It's not about shutting borders. It's both a coherent, coordinated public health action by a number of member states who share borders in order to effectively manage the public health consequences of of any importation of coal with 19. Thank you very much. Let's try one more time to call someone and then we'll get back to the room for the gentleman from CNN. Thinking here.

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Yes, I can hear you. Thanks for taking my call. This is Jaclyn Howard from CNN. My question of the follow up on the comments that you've made about pandemic. Thank you for clarify your questions around my follow up. That is at what point as we monitor this outbreak? At what point would we call that a pandemic? And for any outbreak, right. Right. Curious if it had free to be determined.

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Kansas City may wish to come in on this pandemic comes, I think, from the Greek pandemics, which means everybody there must be the population pan, meaning everyone. So pandemics as a concept where there's a belief that the whole world's population would likely be exposed to this infection and pretend to be a proportion of them falls sick. And we've seen as an influenza, it occurs in different waves. So pandemics of influenza can be sometimes called a lot earlier because we know we've had previous pandemics and we know with influenza that when is highly efficient community, you transmit transmission as we see with seasonal flu, that the disease does spread around the world and it has proven that time and time again.

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So it's much easier to say a pandemic will occur in an influenza situation, but we don't understand. Yes. In in in in court, 19 are the absolute transmission dynamics. And look what's happened in China. We've seen a significant drop in cases, huge pressure placed on the virus and a Montana and a sequential decrease in the number of cases that goes against the logic of pandemic. Yet we see in contrast to that's an acceleration of cases in places like Korea.

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And therefore, we're still in the in the balance. It's very important. And the director general said this time and time again, now is the time to prepare. So we're in a phase of preparedness for a potential pandemic that doesn't stop anyone doing what they need to do. We've had enough countries now import disease. It is time to prepare. It is time to do everything you would do in preparing for a pandemic. But in declaring something, a pandemic, it is too early.

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We're still trying to avoid that reality. We're still trying to avoid that eventuality. And countries are having success in doing that. So let's focus on what we can do and what we need to do, which is prepare with whom we mean prepare. We mean prepare to detect cases prepared to treat cases prepared to follow context, prepared to put it in place, adequate containment measures. It's not said it's not 100 different measures. There are probably five or six key interventions.

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And director general outlined them in the speech. And so we may wish to comment on this as well. Thanks a lot. And I think whatever is the situation as Mike a lighted, what is really important to understand is that the situation will be different in different contexts. And so that's why the local and national risk assessment is so important, because this is how you can really tailor the intervention to the context. And even in one given countries, a situation may be different in different provinces, for instance.

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And so that's why it's so important now to get prepared and to try to grubs these nuances and so that we can put in place effective interventions. And one of the comment also is that each disease has a different trigger. And what we know from flu, because flu ICIRR been hitting humanity with different pandemic of 3 in the past century and one is in this century. So we have more experience of this gain of disease than it is year to define triggers for when we are in the pre al-Aradi, when we are really in a full pandemic mode.

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But for this disease, it's a very new disease and we are still learning about it. So we we do is a very careful monitoring 24/7 and working closely together to be on top of it at any moment.

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Thank you very much. We'll take one more question from online Banjoko from India about therapy misadventure. Can you hear us?

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Hi. My question is for both the just and meeting the official South African CDC will be in.

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Again, you have some sense of how long they might have bodies in different countries on some the monkey samples and how many of those guys who have suffered the same thing.

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Yeah. Thank you. I thought if you could just give a sense about how much these phone lines reported by telephone.

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How much are they prepared? What the second. The second one. Third. So I will I will take the first one. As you know, the start of this outbreak, that was only one country that could do the testing.

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Now we have 41 countries and we're moving to the rest of the countries that have been developing the capability. But the meeting of the African Union ministers of health was very, very important because it helps in continental preparedness and also a national level of preparedness. And they had a consensus on on on boss.

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And they have agreed to do all they can because it's their national preparedness, which is really central to fight if, you know, for the co-teacher driver of this virus in the continent.

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Now, with regard to preparedness to implement public health measures like case detection, isolation, quarantine. In fact, paradoxically, countries in Africa have quite a deal of experience in dealing with detection of specific syndromes. Africa is the leading the world in polio surveillance and surveillance for hemorrhagic fevers, which is a hemorrhagic syndrome with cholera, which is a watery diarrhea syndrome for Lassa fever and for yellow fever. So countries in Africa have been dealing with the identification of isolation and contact tracing for many different diseases.

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The challenge in this particular case is that this is a respiratory disease and the systems in Africa historically have not been as well developed for that. But W.H.O., with its partners in the Global Influenza Surveillance Network, has been doing quite a bit of work over the last five years, since, in fact, since the last pandemic in strengthening the capacity of African public health systems to detect and implement respiratory disease surveillance, particularly restricted acute lower respiratory tract infections, surveillance.

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So we believe that the surveillance systems are in place. But what we need to do is connect clinicians and the hospitals with the surveillance systems, with the laboratories. So those basic capacities exist, but it's the same for all countries. Even Italy and everywhere else, the issue in a crisis is not having the individual capacities. It's making those capacities work together in a coherent and coordinated fashion. We've seen that with polio eradication. It's not just about the individual capacities, coordination, governance and the ability to drive a coherent response over a long period of time.

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And we've seen that in Ebola. It's taken a year and a half in Congo to develop and implement a comprehensive multi agency, multi organization capacity to contain Ebola in Congo and prevented reaching surrounding countries. So I think Africa has quite a track record. We need to support those systems. And there are countries in other parts of the world who also have weaker health systems and we also need to support them.

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That's going to take a few more questions than the rumor. Then we'll have to go, please. First mission in this country to train them.

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We will probably have to find out why some one U.S. agency experts warned there's a possibility that to cold at night and it's here to stay. It might become a Long-Term Disease that coexists with humans like the flu. I can't comment on this.

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Thank you.

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Yes, absolutely. That's a possibility. Stability. What we don't know is what the reality will be in two months or in six months time. There there is still a possibility that we can contain the virus and interrupt the trends and interrupt its transmission. But the virus may settle down into an endemic pattern of transmission, into a seasonal pattern, transmission, or could accelerate into a full blown global pandemic. At this point, it is not possible to say which of those realities is going to is going to happen.

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In fact, the hope we have from the from the efforts in China is that it is clear that China and a number of other countries with smaller events have managed to suppress and contain the virus. But as I said, some countries are struggling with that. So we have to now see can we learn the lessons? And I think that's going to be one of the important things coming from the mission to China is collating and bringing together all of that experience that China has had over the last eight weeks to see what we can learn about what the right things to do, what works, what doesn't work, what's effective, what's not effective.

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But you're right. You're correct. If anyone wants to predict the future, they're welcome to do it. But you have the possibility arrays is certainly one that could come to pass. Thank you so much for three.

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Thank you. Thank you.

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Hong Chemical Gafoor husband. My question is regarding preparedness. He often spoke about Africa, but as Mike indicated, there was just unblinded overpays used to. This kind of expert. I would like to know a lot about European countries. Are they prepared and see what's happening in Italy? For instance, a follow up question on my colleague, the days ahead. About four conferences we just had the Human Rights Council session that both and this morning. There's nothing at the airport and there's nothing to go around during the day at the time for a tour or anything.

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So what do you think? And are you also hear about the coordination of the government's plans? LastPass from the European authorities. Thank you.

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And we believe as all countries are vulnerable, because all countries have two things. All countries have vulnerable populations, people within any. But I have developed an economy is there are many, many older people with underlying conditions who may be negatively impacted if this virus arrives at a stretch. Secondly, many of our health systems, even in the most developed countries, in fact, very often in the most developed countries, are operating at nearly 100 percent efficiency or impact all the time.

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You don't see many extra beds in hospitals in Europe. So the problem for the European countries and other countries in the developed world is that the health systems may come under a lot of extra pressure. We see this with the seasonal influenza every winter, but slowing down the virus even now slowing down the virus spreading in Europe. In order for the flu season to end, we're free of significant capacity in the health system. So even slowing down the virus by a month or six weeks has a massive positive benefit to the system, which you're right.

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All systems have vulnerabilities. But again, we've said it before. When it comes to conferences, when it comes to movement, there is not zero risk. We can't shut down the world in the sense of if we could. Everyone can close their borders and everyone can say there's no move. And that's that's not going to work because disease can spread between nations. So I think what we need to focus on is risk management, reducing the risks of disease importation, reducing the risk of disease transmission, increasing the survival of patients who get sick and understand that this virus may come and it may cause outbreaks or epidemics in any number of countries, but they can be managed that can be dealt with.

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But I think we have to be very, very careful in trying to suggest that we can absolutely stop this virus from spreading from one country to the next. I don't think that's possible.

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SILVEY If you have a comment on that, I think I think you're right. And I think the we have seen many crises are not necessarily unique to viruses, but if you remember a few years ago, the heat wave as well. So it shows that every country has within our abilities. But does is why the alert was raised to that. Now they need to really consider their plan because normally and most of the countries have done a preparedness plan and test this plan and see if this plan will work and put aside order for assessing duties.

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And I said you can have some that can be de virus when it comes. Very much so there would be some surprise for many European countries, but the one one thing that I couldn't be surprised, too many countries.

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But one thing that's clear is the capacity, the institutional capacity they have can be TRAEGER to is to counter that.

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That's one one thing. But they have the capacity. Of course, institution and capacity. And you truly will conclude that evidence.

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And sorry for everyone online and. The rumor who was not able to ask the question. There will be other opportunities. We will send you all your files from this briefing shortly. We have sent to you all audio far from the conference that took place in China earlier today. And then we will have on our Twitter account a short encounter of United Nations secretary general with some of the journalists around 5:30 today. So please follow us on Twitter. Thank you very much.

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And have a nice day.

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Thank you. Hey, how are you? Are you busy today? Hopefully. Well, because it's I was surprised to see anything like this. So that's what he said. I mean, this was about. To prevent crime in a city with such an outcome, a major decision made. Because a lot of stuff I can't figure out how to tell you, I going put to my. OK, fine, thank you. So it's called. Idea.

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This is the closest city. Back to you. Have you had any doubts about the election? No. A couple of years or more is going to if they want us to go with.