By: Kazeem Biriowo
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday warns against perception that the COVID-19 disease is likely impacted by the changing seasons like other respiratory diseases.
It instead stated that physical distancing is the key towards stopping its spread.
Dr. Margaret Harris,WHO spokesperson, gave the warning during a scheduled virtual press conference.
“The season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus, what is affecting the transmission is mass gatherings, it’s people coming together, and people not social distancing, not taking the precautions to ensure they are not in close contact,” says Dr. Harris.
She said as at Tuesday morning, Geneva time, the WHO has recorded 16,301,736 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 650,069 deaths globally
In a breakdown, she said the United States (US) remains the epicentre by region, with more than 8.7 million cases, followed by Europe (3.2 million), South-East Asia (1.8 million), Eastern Mediterranean (1.5 million), Africa (712,920) and Western Pacific (291,993).
Brazil had also seen high infection rates, despite being an equatorial country, the WHO spokesperson noted.
She explained that with winter underway, samples tested indicate “high” COVID infection rates but low influenza traces.
“Now the interesting thing is we are seeing from those samples, high levels of COVID, but we’re not seeing high levels of influenza at the moment. So, we’re expecting a later flu season in the southern hemisphere,” she says.
Dr Harris also pushed back on the perception that a respiratory illness might come and go in several waves.
She said;“It’s going to be one big wave. It’s going to go up and down a bit…the best thing is to flatten it and turn it into just something that is lapping at your feet. But at the moment, first, second, third wave, these things don’t really make sense and we’re not really defining it that way.”
Asked about the WHO’s stance on charging for COVID-19 testing, the WHO official explained that this was a decision governed by countries alone.
“Now we do everything we can to encourage all countries to test, because testing is absolutely essential, you don’t know where your outbreak is if you’re not testing people. And we also encourage all countries to make access to testing wide and available,” she added.