COVID-19 deaths rising, debt relief needed for developing nations: WHO

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Apr 02, 2020, 08:51 AM(IST)

Coronavirus across the world Photograph:( Reuters )

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that his agency, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed debt relief to help developing countries cope with the pandemic`s social and economic consequences.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday voiced concern about the rapid escalation and global spread of COVID-19 cases from the novel coronavirus, which has now reached 205 countries and territories.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that his agency, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed debt relief to help developing countries cope with the pandemic`s social and economic consequences.

He also praised India's $22.6 billion economic stimulus plan - announced after a 21-day lockdown imposed last week - to provide free food rations for 800 million disadvantaged people, cash transfers to 204 million poor women and free cooking gas for 80 million households for the next 3 months.

"For developing countries, debt relief is essential to enable them to take care of their people and avoid economic collapse. This is a call from the WHO, the World Bank and IMF - debt relief for developing countries. What we are proposing together is an expedited process to support countries so their economies will not be getting into crisis and their communities will not be really getting into crisis," Tedros said.

China, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged in December, reported dwindling new infections on Wednesday and disclosed for the first time the number of asymptomatic cases, which could complicate how trends in the outbreak are read.

To this end, Dr Maria ver Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist who was part of an international team that went to China in February, said the WHO's definition included laboratory-confirmed cases "regardless of the development of symptoms".

"From data that we have seen from China in particular, we know that individuals who are identified, who are listed as asymptomatic, about 75 per cent of those actually go on to develop symptoms," she said, describing them as having been in a "pre-symptomatic phase".

The outbreak continues to be driven by people who show signs of disease including fever and cough, but it is important for the WHO to capture that "full spectrum of illness", she added.
 

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