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Seorang saintis dari Pertubuhan Kesihatan Dunia (WHO) yang menyiasat asal usul wabak Covid-19 mengatakan gua kelawar mungkin mempunyai petunjuk penting mengesan unsur genetik virus tersebut.

Menurut laporan Reuters, pakar penyakit haiwan, Peter Daszak berkata, gua kelawar di Wuhan, perlu menjadi sebahagian daripada penyelidikan berprofil tinggi mengenai asal usul penyakit itu.

Daszak mengatakan bahawa kumpulan itu telah menerima maklumat baharu mengenai bagaimana wabak Covid-19 menyebabkan kematian hampir 2.3 juta orang di seluruh dunia.

Beliau tanpa mengulas lanjut, mengatakan saat ini tidak ada bukti menyokong idea bahawa virus itu berasal dari dalam makmal seperti yang tular sebelum ini.

Daszak pernah terlibat dalam penelitian mengenai asal usul Sindrom Pernafasan Akut Teruk (SARS) pada tahun 2002 dan 2003 dengan menyiasat haiwan kelawar yang tinggal di sebuah gua di Yunnan barat daya.

“Oleh itu, penyelidikan serupa perlu dilakukan dan tugas mencari sumber kelawar adalah penting kerana jika anda dapat mencari sumber virus maut ini, anda dapat mengurangkan kontak dengan haiwan tersebut,” katanya.

Sebelum ini, China tidak telus dalam menangani penularan wabak ini dan Beijing memberitahu, virus itu berasal dari tempat lain namun Amerika Syarikat terutama mengatakan asal usul virus ini dari Wuhan, China.

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It is time to start solving the mystery of Long Covid, an aspect of the pandemic blighting millions of lives, the World Health Organization’s leader on post-Covid conditions told AFP.

Little is known about why some people, after coming through the acute phase of Covid-19, struggle to recover and suffer ongoing symptoms including tiredness, brain fog, cardiac and neurological disorders.

At this stage of the pandemic, the world is fixated on vaccine roll-out and new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

However, Long Covid deserves similar urgent attention, said Janet Diaz, the clinical care lead in the WHO’s emergencies programme, ahead of a push for a globally-unified approach to the problem.

“We still don’t fully understand what Long Covid is,” Diaz told AFP in an interview outside the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.

“There’s quite a bit to learn, but I am confident that the scientific community is really rallying around.”

Tellingly, Long Covid does not yet have a proper name.

The WHO currently calls it post-Covid condition, while other terms in circulation include post-acute Covid syndrome and Covid long haulers.

Building up a picture

The WHO is hosting a first global seminar on Long Covid on February 9. It will bring scientists, experts and clinicians together to define the condition, give it a formal name and harmonise study methods.

“It’s a condition that needs further description, further understanding of how many are affected and further understanding of what is causing it, so we can better prevent, manage and treat it,” said Diaz, 48, a US respiratory physician and intensive care doctor.

She said British and other studies suggested potentially one in 10 cases may have prolonged symptoms one month after infection, but there was no picture yet of how long those conditions might persist.

The elderly and those with underlying conditions are most at risk of serious disease from Covid-19.

But the profile of Long Covid patients does not match. It affects people with varying degrees of severity of disease and “seems to potentially also include younger people”, including children, said Diaz.

While the pandemic response priority remains preventing people from catching the virus and falling ill, treating coronavirus cases “must also now include care after the acute illness… until you get back to full health”, Diaz said.

Cracking the code

Diaz said fatigue seemed to be the most common symptom, with others including post-exertional malaise, cognitive dysfunction or brain fog, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and neurological problems.

“How these are all related — that’s what we don’t understand. Why would one person get this, and the other person get that?” asked Diaz, saying researchers needed to crack the underlying mechanisms of the disease that were causing these persistent symptoms.

“Is it something due to the virus? Due to the immune response? If we had a better idea, we could start to target some interventions to reduce symptoms.”

Diaz said a “tremendous amount” of research was underway, largely classic observational studies following discharged patients.

The first Covid-19 cases were discovered in China in December 2019. But it was only when Long Covid started appearing on the radar months later that mystified sufferers began reaching out and joining the dots themselves.

“That’s been a tremendous movement,” said Diaz, who took on the Long Covid remit in October.

In the first wave of the pandemic, struggling health care systems got patients through the acute illness, “but then didn’t realise they weren’t recovering to their previous health”.

She said the patient-led research had driven scientists to do further studies, and “collaboratively we should get to an answer quicker”.

‘Stay hopeful’

The February 9 seminar, at which scientists will present their latest findings, will be the first in a regular series.

“Right now, we probably have enough descriptive data to start to bring it all together,” said Diaz.

Besides agreeing a definition and a name, the meeting will launch a standardised data collection methods for monitoring patients, and start opening doors towards clinical prevention and management.

“We quickly have to build our understanding from each other’s experiences,” Diaz said.

Crucially, donors will be taking part, and are “really aware” of the pressing need for Long Covid funding, she added.

In a message to the potential millions still suffering long after they are officially considered recovered, Diaz said: “Stay hopeful”.

“People may have prolonged symptoms, but we do know people are recovering. It may take a long time, but they are still recovering to previous health. We’re with you.”

-malaymail

The World Health Organisation yesterday launched a strategy to rid the world of cervical cancer, stressing that broad use of vaccines, new tests and treatments could save five million lives by 2050.

“Eliminating any cancer would have once seemed an impossible dream, but we now have the cost-effective, evidence-based tools to make that dream a reality,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

More than half a million new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed around the world each year, hundreds of thousands of women die from the disease, and the WHO warns will rise significantly in the years to come without action.

The good news is that cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) — a common sexually transmitted infection — is preventable with reliable and safe vaccines, and also curable if caught early and adequately treated.

During the WHO’s main annual meeting last week, all 194 member countries agreed to a plan towards eliminating the cancer.

‘Huge milestone’

“This is a huge milestone,” WHO Assistant Director-General Princess Nothemba Simelela told a virtual press briefing.

“For the first time the world has agreed to eliminate the only cancer we can prevent with a vaccine, and the only cancer which is curable if detected early,” she said.

Urgent action is needed.

The WHO forecasts that if countries do not act swiftly, the number of global cases could jump from 570,000 in 2018 to 700,000 by 2030, while deaths could increase from 311,000 to 400,000 during the same timeframe.

Simelela insisted “decades of neglect” were responsible for the high number of cervical cancer deaths, especially in low and middle-income countries, where there are twice as many cases and three times as many deaths from the disease as in wealthy nations.

While most high-income countries have introduced wide-spread vaccination, testing and treatment, access has remained far more difficult elsewhere, in part due to the high cost of vaccine doses.

“If we can improve access for low and middle income countries we really can be on the road to elimination,” she said.

The strategy announced yesterday calls on countries by 2030 to ensure that at least 90 per cent of girls to be fully vaccinated against HPV before they turn 15.

It also calls for at least 70 per cent of women to be tested for cervical cancer by the time they are 35 and again by 45, and for at least 90 per cent of women diagnosed with the disease to receive treatment.

Covid hit vaccinations

While a range of recent advances promise to simplify testing, push down costs and ease access, WHO acknowledged that its new strategy comes at a challenging time, with the world focused on battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis has interrupted vaccination, screening and treatment for cervical cancer, while border closures have reduced availability of supplies.

“We probably lost a sizable number of women,” Simelela said.

She added though that the testing infrastructure and systems being created for Covid-19 could hopefully be maintained for screening for other diseases, including cervical cancer.

“We can make history to ensure a cervical cancer-free future,” she said.

-malaymail

On 10 June, Malaysia will enter into its next phase to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. This phase — called the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) — has fewer restrictions and will last until 31 August.

In a special televised address today, 7 June, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that while the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) will end as scheduled on 9 June, the RMCO marks the entry of the country into the ‘exit strategy’ phase.

“During the implementation period of RMCO, more restrictions will be relaxed to allow the public to carry out their daily activities while complying to the standard operating procedures (SOPs),” said Muhyiddin.

He announced that almost all social, religious, business, and educational activities will be allowed to resume in stages under strict SOPs during the RMCO and that if there is an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases within this period, Enhanced MCO will be executed in the affected areas.

Under RMCO, while interstate travel will be permitted — except for areas placed under Enhanced MCO — international travel will remain close as the country’s borders remain shut.

Among other things, hair salons, morning and night markets will be allowed to open along with eased out restrictions on leisure activities such as visiting museums and entertainment outlets, etc.

The Prime Minister also announced that Hari Raya Aidiladha celebration and Qurban activities will also be permitted in this new phase. However, the organisers must adhere to SOPs.

Additionally, while schools will be opened in stages, places like nightclubs, theme parks, and karaoke centres, as well as large gatherings such as kenduri (feast), will still be barred during the RMCO.

This raises an important question about wearing a face mask in crowded places where social distancing might not be possible

So what are the health authorities like The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) saying about wearing face masks even for people who are or seem healthy?

The WHO, in its latest advice issued on 5 June, recommends wearing masks for infected individuals to prevent onward transmission and also for those who are healthy for protection.

The agency, however, added that the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection or source control that and other personal and community level measures as such hand hygiene, physical distancing should also be adopted to suppress transmission of respiratory viruses.

Separately, the WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that masks are not a replacement for physical distancing, hand hygiene, and other public health measures to fight COVID-19.

“People can potentially infect themselves if they use contaminated hands to adjust a mask or to repeatedly take it off and put it on, without cleaning hands in between. Masks can also create a false sense of security, leading people to neglect measures such as hand hygiene and physical distancing. I cannot say this clearly enough: masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19,” Dr Tedros said.

Following which, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that MOH strongly recommends and encourages the use of face masks in public places that are crowded.

Masks are useful in reducing the risk of viral transmissions

According to Dr Noor Hisham, the public is strongly recommended to use face masks, especially the elderly and those with symptoms of COVID-19 at crowded places such as during public commute.

Meanwhile, the WHO gave examples of where the general public should be encouraged to use medical and non-medical masks in areas with known or suspected community transmission.

The agency added that studies provide evidence that the use of a medical mask can prevent the spread of infectious droplets from symptomatic infected person to someone else and potential contamination of the environment by these droplets and that disposable surgical masks or reusable 12–16-layer cotton masks are associated with the protection of healthy individuals within households and among contacts of cases.

However, the agency also emphasized that the use of masks by healthy people comes with its own set of potential harms and benefits

Among the benefits, it listed:

— reduced potential exposure risk from infected persons before they develop symptoms,
— reduced potential stigmatization of individuals wearing masks to prevent infecting others or of people caring for COVID-19 patients in non-clinical settings,
— making people feel they can play a role in contributing to stopping the spread of the virus.

One other benefit, according to the WHO, is that wearing masks by the general public has the potential to boost social and economic benefits.

“The production of non-medical masks may offer a source of income for those able to manufacture masks within their communities. Fabric masks can also be a form of cultural expression, encouraging public acceptance of protection measures in general,” it said, adding that “the safe re-use of fabric masks will also reduce costs and waste and contribute to sustainability”.

While listing out likely disadvantages of the use of a mask by healthy people, the WHO said:

— a false sense of security, leading to potentially lower adherence to other critical preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene,
— potential increased risk of self-contamination due to the manipulation of a face mask and subsequently touching eyes with contaminated hands,
— potential self-contamination that can occur if non-medical masks are not changed when wet or soiled. This can create favorable conditions for microorganism to amplify,
— potential headache and/or breathing difficulties, depending on the type of mask used,
— potential development of facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne, when used frequently for long hours,
— waste management issues; improper mask disposal leading to increased litter in public places, risk of contamination to street cleaners, and environmental hazard,
— difficulty communicating for deaf persons who rely on lip-reading.

Furthermore, the WHO said that if masks are recommended for the general public, the decision-maker should consider steps like clearly communicating the purpose of wearing a mask, where, when, how

“Explain what wearing a mask may achieve and what it will not achieve, and communicate clearly that this is one part of a package of measures along with hand hygiene, physical distancing, and other measures that are all necessary and all reinforce each other,” the agency said.

— Inform/train people on when and how to use masks safely, i.e. put on, wear, remove, clean, and dispose,
— consider the feasibility of use, supply/access issues, social and psychological acceptance,
— continue gathering scientific data and evidence on the effectiveness of mask use,
— evaluate the impact (positive, neutral or negative) of using masks in the general population.

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Covid-19 tidak mungkin dapat dihapuskan: WHO

May 14, 2020 | News | No Comments

Wabak koronavirus ini mungkin tidak akan hapus sama sekali, kata Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia (WHO).

Amaran itu dibuat ketika banyak negara sudah mula melonggarkan sekatan bagi membuka semula ekonomi.

Sehubungan itu penduduk dunia perlu belajar menerima kehidupan dengan ancaman virus itu.

Kata Pengarah Kecemasan WHO, Mike Ryan, adalah sukar untuk meramalkan bila pandemik ini akan berakhir.

Sebaliknya, beliau memberi contoh penduduk dunia perlu menerima Covid-19 seperti mana kewujudan HIV.

Koronavirus pertama kali dikesan di China, tahun lalu dan kini menjangkiti 4.2 juta orang, dengan hampir 300 ribu kes kematian.

WHO juga mengulangi amaran tiada jaminan tindakan melonggarkan sekatan tidak akan mencetuskan gelombang jangkitan baharu.

Dalam pada itu, Ryan turut meluahkan kebimbangan mengenai serangan ke atas sebuah hospital di Afghanistan.

“Kami sangat bimbang dengan serangan ini, bukan sahaja ke atas fasiliti penjagaan kesihatan yang berkaitan Covid-19, tetapi wujud keadaan tidak aman di sekitar fasiliti ini.

“Kami mahu mengingatkan serangan bersasar ke atas fasiliti kesihatan dan petugas sektor kesihatan kerana konflik atau perang atau tindakan tidak bertanggungjawab ke atas kesihatan yang tidak boleh anda bayangkan,” katanya.

Dalam perkembangan berkaitan, WHO menekankan usaha mengenal pasti sumber wabak Covid-19 adalah kritikal ketika ini.

Langkah itu boleh menentukan bagaimana virus berkenaan berkembang.

Kajian sehingga kini mendapati virus itu berasal dari haiwan dan kemudian menjangkiti manusia.

Kata Pegawai Kanan WHO, virus itu bermutasi setiap kali berpindah dari satu haiwan ke haiwan yang lain.

Tindakan mengenal pasti sumber virus, akan membolehkan dunia mengelak pandemik dan penularan dari haiwan kepada manusia.

Wabak Covid-19 turut mencetuskan pertikaian diplomatik di antara China dan Amerika Syarikat (AS)

-sinarharian

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, another pandemic that shook the globe back in 2009 was the swine flu or better known as H1N1. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), H1N1 was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in March 2009.

At that time, H1N1 was one of the biggest crisis that people had faced as it has affected countless of people all across the world. However, WHO has stepped forward on Monday (April 13) and informed that the current Covid-19 pandemic is ten times deadlier than the H1N1.

We are currently in the midst of one of the worst pandemic that the world has ever seen.

According to the Star, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from Geneva that the organisation was constantly learning about the new virus sweeping the globe, which has now killed nearly 115,000 people and infected over 1.8 million.

“We know that Covid-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly, 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic,” he said.

At the present time, more than half of the planet’s population is currently staying home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. However, Tedros warned that “our global connectedness means the risk of re-introduction and resurgence of the disease will continue”.

He further pointed out that the spread of Covid-19 is really fast, but, the time it takes for people to get better and for the virus to decelerate is much slower.

“In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up,” he said, reported Free Malaysia Today(FMT). Due to the infectious nature of this virus, Tedros stressed that control measures must be lifted slowly and with control. It cannot happen all at once.

WHO believes that only a vaccine could be an answer for this pandemic. “Ultimately, the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission,” WHO acknowledged. WHO believes that a vaccine might be at least 12 to 18 months away, reported FMT.

Due to the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, we hope that everyone plays their part in the efforts to curb the spread of this virus. Experts have time and time again stated that staying indoors, practicing social distancing and regular washing of hands reduces the exposure towards the virus.

Everyone working together is absolutely crucial and we hope better times will come soon. 

W.O.B

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