• Tuesday, Aug 04, 2020
  • Last Update : 08:53 am

WHO: Almost 3rd of Covid-19 samples show mutation but not more severe disease

  • Published at 06:36 pm July 4th, 2020
Coronavirus: 6 Million shortage of nurses
File Photo: A nurse measures the temperature and oxygen level of the blood of a man during drive-thru triage to identify people with coronavirus disease (Covid-19) symptoms in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, April 3, 2020 Reuters

The Americas are the hardest-hit region, with most cases and deaths registered in the United States, and with numbers skyrocketing in a several countries in Latin America

Almost 30% of genome sequencing data from samples of the Covid-19 virus collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) have shown signs of mutation, but there is no evidence that it has led to more severe disease, a top WHO official said on Friday.

"I think it's quite widespread," Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, told Reuters on the sidelines of a briefing held by the UN journalists' association ACANU in Geneva.

The UN agency has so far collected 60,000 samples of the disease, she said.

The UN health body has been accused by US President Donald Trump of failing to provide the information needed to stem the pandemic and of being complacent towards Beijing, charges it denies.

'Wake Up' and Halt Virus

The WHO urged countries hit by serious coronavirus outbreaks to "wake up" to the realities on the ground instead of bickering, and to "take control."

"People need to wake up. The data is not lying. The situation on the ground is not lying," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told journalists at a briefing hosted by the UN correspondents' association in Geneva, reports AFP.

The coronavirus has hit at least 11.2 million people and killed 529,000 worldwide.

The Americas are the hardest-hit region, with most cases and deaths registered in the United States, and with numbers skyrocketing in a several countries in Latin America.

"There are good economic reasons that the countries need to bring their economies back online," Ryan said. "It's understandable, but you can't ignore the problem either. The problem will not magically go away."

'Worst case scenario'

It could be possible to loosen restrictions in areas with lower transmission rates and still contain the outbreak through things like physical distancing, hand-washing, testing, isolating cases and contact tracing.

But in areas where the virus is spreading uncontrollably, strict measures could be unavoidable, he said.

"If countries proceed with opening up without the capacity to cope with the likely caseload, then you end up in a worst-case scenario," Ryan warned.

In the case of Brazil, which counts almost 1.5 million confirmed cases, second only to the United States, Ryan meanwhile said that the numbers had "stabilized," meaning they are no longer rising as steeply, but they are "still rising."

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