WHO launches COVID-19 health alert service with Facebook and WhatsApp – Updates from Friday’s WHO briefing

tedros

Dr. Tedros, Head of WHO (Credit: UN News)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Linda Lacina, Digital Editor, World Economic Forum


  • The World Health Organization held a media briefing to update the public on the COVID-19 outbreak. Streamed live at 17.00 CET on Friday, 20 March.
  • A new health alert messaging system in partnership with Facebook and WhatsApp can help people get questions answered about the virus.

As worldwide cases of COVID-19 rise above 254,000 and one country after another increases restrictions on people’s movement, here’s what you need to know about the spread of the coronavirus, from officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.

New health alert service launched with WhatsApp

At today’s briefiing, the WHO announced the launch of a messaging service in conjunction with partners WhatsApp and Facebook. The service, available only in English for now, has the potential to reach 2 billion people and help get reliable information to those who need it.

The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp or by sending “hi” to the number 0041798931892. Once a conversation is activated, users can access a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

WHO Covid-19 messaging
Get answers.
Image: WHO

Coronavirus is a risk to people of all ages
Studies released this week found that the young have just as much to fear from COVID-19 as the elderly, WHO officials said. People under 50 comprise a significant number of people requiring hospitalization, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Two out of 3 people admitted to intensive care units in Italy were younger than 50, said Michael Ryan, Chief Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. Looking just at the mortality rates facing older people does not fully address the risk the disease presents, he said. “Let’s not just look at mortality rates”, said Ryan. “Let’s look at the impact to society”.

Dr Tedros warned young people to follow the recommendations from their local health authorities and limit physical gatherings. “You’re not invincible”, he said. “This virus could put you in hospital for weeks or kill you. The choices you make could mean the difference between life and death for other people”.

Spread the word about how to stay safe, he said, but don’t spread the virus.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Tips for keeping individuals and communities safe and healthy
As new cities and countries enact lockdowns and tighten restrictions, the WHO officials shared tips to preserve mental and physical health. These include:

  • Making time for exercise: The WHO recommends 30 minutes a day for adults and 1 hour a day for children. The Director-General suggested taking a walk or hike, or if local guidelines recommend staying inside, watching a workout video online, practicing yoga or walking up and down stairs in your home.
  • Taking breaks: For those working from home, they suggested taking regular breaks and avoiding sitting in the same position, if possible.
  • Practicing physical distancing, not social distancing. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead, stressed that social connections are essential to coping during the pandemic, but asked that those bonds be maintained at a physical distance. Dr Tedros recommended that people check in on neighbours and friends, while keeping to local guidelines. “Supporting other people can help you as much as it does them”. He added: “Compassion is a medicine”.
  • Protecting healthcare workers. Don’t use masks unless you are caring for a sick person at home, to allow critical equipment to be used by the right people. Stick to local guidelines to avoid spreading the virus and putting additional pressures on the healthcare system.

“Compassion is a medicine.”

—Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Addressing the increasingly complex equipment gap
The WHO continues to grapple with a global shortage in personal protection equipment (PPE), such as gowns, gloves and masks, in addition to a shortage of lab tests. The organization is developing estimates to address what the potential need might be. “A shortfall is a difference between what you need and what you have,” said Ryan. “And right now we don’t know how much we need because we don’t know how fast this is going to develop”.

Ryan said that the WHO had distributed 1.5 million lab tests around the world. Given the amount needed, testing could need to scale up 80 to 100 times. “It’s not about doubling or tripling”, said Ryan. “We may need to increase 80 fold”.

The WHO is working with countries to understand what stocks they might currently have, as well as studying market analysis on supply chains and working with private companies to increase production. Once estimates are completed, the WHO can tackle getting tests, PPE and key experts to countries that need them given the lockdowns and restrictions in place in many parts of the world.

Vaccine developments – what’s ahead
Multiple vaccines are in development, according to WHO officials, and the first trials have begun just 60 days after the genetic sequence was first shared by China. Officials warned, however, that it would be some time before the vaccine could be fully distributed. It must be properly tested and deemed safe, for one. But then, as Ryan noted, it must be manufactured and distributed at scale so everyone has access. “The world is not protected until everyone is protected”. he said.

 

For more information, visit the WHO coronavirus page.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Neelie Kroes at the European Young Innovators Forum: Unconvention 2014

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

Blockchain will make sure green pledges aren’t just greenwash: a new initiative by young leaders at the World Economic Forum

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

Genocide threat for Myanmar’s Rohingya greater than ever, investigators warn Human Rights Council

France-Germany: Divided in Europe, USA united in…Iran

‘Uphold human dignity’, dismantle ‘specious notion of racial superiority’ urges UN chief

UNESCO food and culture forum dishes up fresh serving of SDGs

These are the 5 most exciting cycling projects in the world

EU Budgets: Europe hoping for Xmas gifts

From violence to dialogue: as land conflicts intensify, UN boosts efforts to resolve disputes through mediation

Eurobarometer survey: Majority of EU citizens positive about international trade

Digital Single Market: New EU rules for online subscription services

More than one million sexually transmitted infections occur every day: WHO

From diamonds to recycling: how blockchain can drive responsible and ethical businesses

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

An Eastern Wind

4 key ways countries can finance their SDG ambitions

IMF: Sorry Greece it was a mistake of 11% of your GDP

France is about to start giving free breakfasts to disadvantaged schoolchildren

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum 2019 concluded, in association with The European Sting

This one small change could transform education for millions

EU officially launches its first naval mission against migrant smugglers

Why this city is paying people to move there

Independent rights experts sound alarm at Iran protest crackdown, internet blackout

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

Telemedicine and the Brazilian reality

Alarm over violent attacks on lawmakers, opposition in Malawi, ahead of elections

Ebola: EU releases additional €3.5 million to tackle epidemic

Talking the talk: the voice-recognition disruptors looking to outsmart big tech

EU Commission – US hasten talks to avoid NGO reactions on free trade agreement

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Tunisia coastline in need of climate cash boost

Mine ban agreement ‘has saved countless lives’, but ‘accelerated efforts’ needed to end scourge for good: Guterres

Eurozone: Bankers-politicians rig keeps robbing taxpayers

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

This study wants every child in the UK to spend a night under the stars

‘Champion for multilateralism’ readies to hand over UN General Assembly gavel

Future fit: 3 ways fashion can be more sustainable

Youth leaders share positive visions of the future, as Guterres launches UN75 in New York

EU Commission challenges Berlin by proposing breakthrough legislation on banks

Get off the path of deadly emissions, UN chief Guterres to urge in key climate change speech

Cameron postpones speech in Holland

Free trade agreement between EU and India?

Why press freedom should be at the top of everyone’s agenda

‘Ground Zero’: Report from the former Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan

Humane leadership must be the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s real innovation

Militias force nearly 2,000 to leave Libyan capital’s largest shelter for internally-displaced: UNHCR

Boris to end up in jail if he loses the next elections?

Around 600,000 Afghan children face death through malnutrition without emergency funds: UNICEF

Working with millennials, leaders say humility works better than bossing around

Libya: UN report urges accountability for deadly attack against migrant centre

Greece to stay in the euro area but the cost to its people remains elusive

Passwords should become a thing of the past. Here’s why

How tech can lead reskilling in the age of automation

3 ways governments and carmakers can keep up with the future of transport

In Sweden you can roam anywhere you like, without the landowner’s permission

New UN agriculture agency report underscores value of fishing in fight against global hunger

Breaking news on European Youth Employment: European Youth Forum Guide tackles poor quality internships!

Italy’s Letta: A European Banking Union soon or Eurozone collapses

State aid: Commission approves Danish public financing of Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link

More Stings?

Trackbacks

  1. […] WHO launches COVID-19 health alert service with Facebook and WhatsApp – Updates from Friday’s WH… […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s