Concerned with new COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, WHO calls govts for agile response

World Health Organisation

Kathmandu, March 5

As India, Indonesia and Thailand confirmed new cases of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation on Wednesday asked countries in the Southeast Asia region including Nepal to strengthen preparedness for all possible scenarios and ensure early containment measures.

“The top priority of countries should be to be ready to roll out speedy response to the first case, first cluster, and first evidence of community transmission. Early containment measures can help countries stop transmission,” the WHO Regional Director, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said in a statement.

Five of the 11 countries in the region have confirmed COVID-19 cases – Thailand 43, India 28, Indonesia 2 and Sri Lanka and Nepal one each.

“The risk of the new coronavirus is very high across the world and in WHO South-East Asia Region. More cases can be expected,” the official said, “Rapidly identifying these cases, isolating them and following their contacts are important initiatives to help limit person to person transmission. The speed of our response is critical, which is only possible if we are prepared.”

Singh suggested that the countries adopt three priorities: protecting health workers; engaging with communities and empowering them with timely and accurate information to enable them to take protective measures, especially those at highest risk; and doing their best to contain epidemics in the most vulnerable countries.

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