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Divided world is failing Covid-19 test, says frustrated UN chief

Published : Sunday, 18 October, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 148

Divided world is failing Covid-19 test, says frustrated UN chief

Divided world is failing Covid-19 test, says frustrated UN chief

LISBON, Oct 17: A divided world has failed to rise to the challenge of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday and warned concerted action was needed to prevent millions of people being pushed into poverty and hunger.
The former Portuguese prime minister said far more could have been done if countries had worked together to combat the disease, which has killed more than one million people.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is a major global challenge for the entire international community, for multilateralism and for me, as secretary-general of the United Nations," Guterres told Portuguese news agency Lusa.  "Unfortunately it is a test that, so far, the international community is failing."
He said that if coordinated measures were not taken, "a microscopic virus could push millions of people into poverty and hunger, with devastating economic effects in the years to come".
Guterres also criticised countries for a lack of unity
in trying to solve other global challenges including the conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. "It is a source of enormous frustration," he said.
More than 39 million people have been infected by COVID-19, according to a Reuters tally based on official disclosures. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
Testing is a critical cornerstone of the COVID-19 response, enabling countries to trace and contain the virus now, and to prepare for the roll-out of vaccines once available. Effective testing strategies rely on a portfolio of test types that can be used in different settings and situations.
While molecular tests started to be rolled out within a month of the virus being sequenced, these tests are mainly laboratory based, relying on infrastructure and trained personnel to conduct them. Rapid tests to detect the presence of the virus at the point of care, which are faster and cheaper, are a vital addition to the testing arsenal needed to contain and fight COVID-19.
WHO guidance published on 11 September 2020 highlights the value of these tests in areas where community transmission is widespread and where nucleic acid amplification-based diagnostic (NAAT) testing is either unavailable or where test results are significantly delayed. 
As well as supporting test-trace-isolate strategies, the tests can help identify or confirm new outbreaks, support outbreak investigations through screening; monitor disease trends; and potentially test asymptomatic contacts.   -REUTERS











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