World Health Organization says countries should prioritise essential travel

People wearing face masks on Oxford Street London as face coverings become mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England

The WHO's Covid-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said Thursday that the organisation had reacted immediately to the first signs of the pandemic, mobilizing its forces to act and inform.

Globally, 17 005 983 cases of COVID-19 (in accordance with the applied case definitions and testing strategies in the affected countries) have been reported, including 666 857 deaths on July 30, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

"Serologic testing detects antibodies in the blood that indicate if a person has already been infected", said the World Health Organization chief.

It advised countries to support these research efforts, including through funding, and to join in efforts to allow equitable allocation of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines by engaging in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator among other initiatives.

A doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England, on June 25, 2020.

During a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday, WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris encouraged people to stop thinking about COVID-19 as a seasonal virus, Reuters reported.

The committee will reconvene within the next three months.

After a full discussion and review of the evidence, the Committee unanimously agreed that the outbreak still constitutes a public health emergency of worldwide concern (PHEIC) and offered this advice to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

"The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come".

The WHO has been sharply criticised for the length of time it took to declare an worldwide emergency.

The United States, which accused the organization of being too close to China, officially began its withdrawal from the WHO in July.

The agency has also been criticised for recommendations deemed to be late or contradictory, in particular on wearing masks, or the modes of transmission of the virus.

He said that since the onset of the virus, many scientific questions had been resolved, and many remain unanswered.

"Early results from serology (antibody) studies are painting a consistent picture: most of the world's people remain susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks", he said.

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