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COVID-19: ‘Don’t Hug’ Is World Health Organisation’s Advice For The Holidays

To stop the spread of the coronavirus, WHO’s emergencies chief said that the shocking rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths means that people should not get too close to their loved ones this year

COVID-19: ‘Don't Hug’ Is World Health Organisation’s Advice For The Holidays
Highlights
  • The USA accounts for a third of all COVID-19 cases in the world: Dr. Ryan
  • Having vaccines is not going to automatically end the pandemic: WHO
  • UK chief medical officer urged people not to hug/kiss elderly relatives

Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has an unwelcome but potentially life-saving message for the holiday season: Don’t hug. To stop the spread of the coronavirus, WHO’s emergencies chief said on Monday (December 7) that the “shocking” rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths, particularly in the US, means that people shouldn’t get too close to their loved ones this year. “The epidemic in the US is punishing. It’s widespread,” said Dr Michael Ryan. “It’s quite frankly, shocking, to see one to two persons a minute die in the US — a country with a wonderful, strong health system (and) amazing technological capacities,” he said.

Also Read: People Living With HIV Are Fighting The Triple Pandemic Of Virus, COVID-19 And Nutrition And Food Security

At the moment, the US accounts for a third of all COVID-19 cases in the world, Dr. Ryan added. According to Johns Hopkins University, the country has recorded more than 280,000 coronavirus deaths to date. Dr. Ryan was responding to a question during a news conference about whether hugs could be considered “close contact” — which the UN health agency has generally advised against in areas of high coronavirus transmission.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said that most transmission happens among people who tend to spend a lot of time together sharing meals and indoor spaces, in workplaces or homes — but it’s sometimes hard to “disentangle” how exactly the virus was spread. Dr. Ryan added,

It’s a horrible thing to think that we would be here as the World Health Organisation saying to people, ‘Don’t hug each other.’ It’s terrible. That is the brutal reality in places like the United States right now.

In November, UK chief medical officer Chris Whitty also told Britons that they shouldn’t hug or kiss their elderly relatives during this year’s holiday season “if you want them to survive to be hugged again”.

WHO’s director of vaccines, Dr Kate O’Brien, warned that while new immunisation campaigns to combat COVID-19 should help slow the pandemic, “having vaccines is not going to be a switch” that means an automatic end to the pandemic.

Last week, Britain became the first Western country to approve the experimental shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech; the country is poised to start vaccinating its highest-risk populations on Tuesday in its biggest-ever immunisation campaign. Dr. O’Brien said that people who have concerns about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine developed in less than a year should learn more about the science, calling such worries “really legitimate questions”.

Also Read: World Health Organisation Says Almost All COVID-19 Cases Develop Immune Response

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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