Tuesday, 04 August 2020 07:19

There May Never Be a 'Silver Bullet' Against COVID-19, WHO Chief Says

There may never be a “silver bullet” for stopping the spread of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization said Monday.

“A number of vaccines are now in Phase 3 clinical trials, and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection. However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment, and there might never be,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom, WHO director-general, said in a media briefing Monday.

Adhanom urged all countries and individuals to “do it all” — listing testing, contact tracing, social distancing and wearing masks — as some of the necessary things that must continue to be done to stop the spread of the virus.

The comments come as the number of confirmed cases and resulting deaths from COVID-19 continue to climb worldwide. The total number of confirmed cases ion Monday is nearly 18.2 million, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which tallied a total of 691,300 deaths.

Australia is ordering nonessential businesses in Melbourne, its second-largest city, to close for six weeks starting Wednesday, as authorities try to control an outbreak that accounts for nearly all of the country’s new cases.

Health officials reported 429 new infections and 13 deaths Monday in Victoria state, which includes Melbourne.

In addition to closing most stores, other industries such as construction and meat production will have to limit their operations starting Friday

The Victoria government declared a COVID-19 disaster in Melbourne on Sunday, and with the new restrictions going into effect, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that workers in Victoria who do not have paid sick leave and have to isolate themselves will be eligible to receive a payment of about $1,000.

Such payments are meant to encourage people to abide by advice to stay home if they test positive, exhibit symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus, instead of feeling financial pressure to keep working and possibly expose others.

“It’s heartbreaking. This pandemic, this virus, is taking a heavy toll, and now’s the time — as it has been throughout this pandemic — that we continue to provide support to one another,” Morrison said.

In the United States, which has about one-fourth of the world’s 18 million confirmed coronavirus cases, negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats failed again on Monday to reach agreement on a new aid package that would include federal money to help the millions of people who are unemployed.

Many lost their jobs during the pandemic, as lockdown restrictions and new consumer habits badly hurt the economy. A previous round of federal aid that provided $600 a week to the unemployed expired last week.

The talks come as the United States deals with an ongoing surge in cases that began in June and pushed leaders in some states to reinstate some of the restrictions they had lifted in hopes that economic activity could return without a resurgence of the virus.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that a "permanent lockdown" policy is not a "viable path forward" in combating the coronavirus pandemic. He noted that other countries have seen a resurgence in cases after lockdowns.

In Norway, officials banned all cruise ships with more than 100 people on board from disembarking passengers at Norwegian ports after a coronavirus outbreak on a vessel left 41 people infected.

"The pandemic is not over," Health Minister Bent Høie told a news conference.

Cases of COVID-19 in Latin America surpassed 5 million, according to a Reuters tally Monday, including more than 10,000 new cases in Colombia and more than 16,600 new cases in Brazil.

In the Philippines, where the total number of cases has surpassed 100,000, new lockdown restrictions go into effect in the capital, Manila, and five densely populated provinces for a period of two weeks.

During that time, people will be allowed to embark only on essential travel, and mass transit will be barred.

Medical groups in the country asked for the reimposition of restrictions to allow health workers under the strain of caring for coronavirus patients a chance to regroup and for the government to recalibrate its efforts in response to the pandemic.

“Our health care workers are burnt out with the seemingly endless number of patients trooping to our hospitals,” the medical groups said in a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte.

(VOA)

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