Covid19 Updates

WHO publishes interactive timeline of its response

30 July 2020

To mark six months since WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern, the highest level of alarm under international law, WHO published an interactive timeline showcasing how the organization has taken action on information, science, leadership, advice, response and resourcing. 

Key materials:

Interactive timeline

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 27 July 2020

WHO experts to travel to China

7 July 2020

WHO experts will travel to China to work together with their Chinese counterparts to prepare scientific plans for identifying the zoonotic source of the SARS-COV-2 virus. The experts will develop the scope and TOR for a WHO-led international mission. 

Key materials:


WHO marks six-month anniversary of the COVID-19 outbreak

29 June 2020

WHO published an updated and detailed timeline of WHO’s response to the pandemic on our website, so the public can have a look at what happened in the past six months in relation to the response.  It illustrates the range of WHO’s work to stop transmission and save lives. 

Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 29 June 2020

Video: How has WHO responded to COVID-19 

Timeline of WHO's response to COVID-19

Hydroxychloroquine arm of Solidarity Trial stops

17 June 2020

WHO announced that the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) arm of the Solidarity Trial to find an effective COVID-19 treatment was being stopped. 

The trial's Executive Group and principal investigators made the decision based on evidence from the Solidarity trial, UK's Recovery trial and a Cochrane review of other evidence on hydroxychloroquine. 

Data from Solidarity (including the French Discovery trial data) and the recently announced results from the UK's Recovery trial both showed that hydroxychloroquine does not result in the reduction of mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, when compared with standard of care. 

Investigators will not randomize further patients to hydroxychloroquine in the Solidarity trial. Patients who have already started hydroxychloroquine but who have not yet finished their course in the trial may complete their course or stop at the discretion of the supervising physician. 

This decision applies only to the conduct of the Solidarity trial and does not apply to the use or evaluation of hydroxychloroquine in pre or post-exposure prophylaxis in patients exposed to COVID-19.

Key materials: 

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 17 June 2020

Solidarity trial webpage

WHO welcomes preliminary results about dexamethasone use in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients

16 June 2020

WHO welcomes the initial clinical trial results from the UK that show dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO. 



Key materials:

Press release




Cluster of COVID-19 in Beijing, People’s Republic of China

13 June 2020

WHO followed up with Chinese authorities about a cluster of COVID-19 cases in Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

Officials from the National Health Commission and Beijing Health Commission briefed WHO’s China country office, to share details of preliminary investigations ongoing in Beijing.  

WHO offered support and technical assistance, as well as requested further information about the cluster and the investigations underway and planned.



Key materials:

Press release

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 15 June 2020



Africa records over 200 000 COVID-19 cases

11 June 2020

The pandemic is accelerating in Africa – it took 98 days to reach 100 000 cases and only 18 days to move to 200 000 cases.

Ten out of 54 countries are currently driving the rise in numbers, accounting for nearly 80% of all the cases. More than 70% of the deaths are taking place in only five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan.

WHO and other partners have supported governments with scaling up health workforce and laboratory capacities and to set up points-of-entry screening at airports and border crossings. These public health and social measures have been effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Africa.



Key materials:

News release


WHO updates masks guidance 

7 June 2020 

Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, the Director-General outlined what has and has not changed in WHO's updated guidance on the use of masks for the control of COVID-19. The new guidance is accompanied by a range of explanatory resources, from videos to Q&As. 

Key materials:

Animation: who wears what mask when

Q&A on masks

Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 5 June 2020

Webpage of public advice on masks with videos and infographics

Video: Dr Tedros on updated guidance on the use of masks

Hydroxychloroquine arm of Solidarity Trial resumes 

3 June 2020

Having met on 23 May 2020, the Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial decided to implement a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial, because of concerns raised about the safety of the drug. This decision was taken as a precaution while the safety data were reviewed by the Data Safety and Monitoring Committee of the Solidarity Trial. 

On 3 June 2020, on the basis of the available mortality data, the members of the committee have recommended that there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol.

The Executive Group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of the Solidarity Trial, including hydroxychloroquine.

The Data Safety and Monitoring Committee will continue to closely monitor the safety of all therapeutics being tested in the Solidarity Trial.

Key materials

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 June 2020

Solidarity Trial webpage


155-country survey shows severe disruption to services for noncommunicable diseases 

1 June 2020 

WHO has released a May 2020 survey, which charts the impact of COVID-19 on prevention and treatment services for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), since the pandemic began. 

More than half (53%) of the countries surveyed have partially or completely disrupted services for hypertension treatment; 49% for treatment for diabetes and diabetes-related complications; 42% for cancer treatment, and 31% for cardiovascular emergencies. 

Rehabilitation services have been disrupted in almost two-thirds (63%) of countries, even though rehabilitation is key to a healthy recovery following severe illness from COVID-19.

In the majority (94%) of countries responding, ministry of health staff working in the area of NCDs were partially or fully reassigned to support COVID-19.

Among the countries reporting service disruptions, globally 58% of countries are now using telemedicine (advice by telephone or online means) to replace in-person consultations; in low-income countries this figure is 42%.



Key materials:

News release

Rapid assessment of service delivery for NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic




Updated guidance on maintaining essential services 

1 June 2020

This guidance recommends practical actions that countries can take at national, subregional and local levels to reorganize and safely maintain access to high-quality, essential health services in the pandemic context. 

It also outlines sample indicators for monitoring essential health services, and describes considerations on when to stop and restart services as COVID-19 transmission recedes and surges. 



Key materials: 

Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context


WHO issues new illustrated guide on psychosocial skills for COVID-19 responders 

1 June 2020

Aimed at those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response – from food store staff to employers to emergency responders – WHO has released illustrated advice for taking care of one’s own mental well-being, communicating with empathy, and helping people suffering from stress or severe distress.

The Guide was developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Reference Group, a collaboration of UN agencies, national and international NGOs and international agencies. 

Key materials 


Updated guidance on maintaining essential services 

1 June 2020

This guidance recommends practical actions that countries can take at national, subregional and local levels to reorganize and safely maintain access to high-quality, essential health services in the pandemic context. 

It also outlines sample indicators for monitoring essential health services, and describes considerations on when to stop and restart services as COVID-19 transmission recedes and surges. 



Key materials: 

Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context



WHO challenges misinformation about COVID-19 and smoking on World No Tobacco Day 

31 May 2020 

WHO's #TobaccoExposed campaign for World No Tobacco Day 2020 emphasises that smoking puts you at higher risk for a severe case of COVID-19. 



Amazon Web Services and Soul Machines created Florence, a WHO digital health worker to help smokers quit and combat misinformation about COVID-19 and tobacco. 



Ahead of the day itself, dancers Quang Đăng and Minh Quân kicked off a challenge on social media platform TikTok. 



Key materials:


WHO publishes key planning recommendations for mass gatherings during COVID-19

30 May 2020

This document provides guidance to host governments, health authorities and national or international organizers of mass gatherings on containing risks of COVID-19 transmission associated with mass gathering events.

Key materials:

Interim guidance: Key planning recommendations for Mass Gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak


WHO and Costa Rica launch landmark COVID-19 Technology Access Pool

29 May 2020

Over thirty countries and multiple international partners and institutions have signed up to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) an initiative aimed at making vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all.

C-TAP will be voluntary and based on social solidarity. It will provide a one-stop shop for scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property to be shared equitably by the global community. 

WHO, Costa Rica and all the co-sponsor countries have also issued a “Solidarity Call to Action” asking relevant stakeholders to join and support the initiative, with recommended actions for key groups, such as governments, research and development funders, researchers, industry and civil society. 



The Director-General and Costa Rica's President also co-authored an op-ed calling for a collective and collaborative response to the coronavirus. 



Key materials:

News release 

Solidarity Call to Action

COVID-19 technology access pool 

Op-ed: Globalizing the Fight Against the Pandemic


WHO issues updated clinical management guidance

27 May 2020

This guidance is for clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients –  including those with mild, moderate, severe, and critical disease – during all phases of their disease, from screening to discharge. 

It contains new sections on: the COVID-19 care pathway, treatment of acute and chronic infections, management of neurological and mental manifestations, noncommunicable diseases, rehabilitation, palliative care, ethical principles, and reporting of death; while previous chapters have also been significantly expanded.

Key materials 

Clinical management of COVID-19


Release of Public Service Announcement with Gru and Minions 

27 May 2020 

WHO has partnered with UN Foundation and Illumination on a short film featuring the Minions and Gru – voiced by Steve Carell – to help people of all ages stay safe and healthy during this COVID-19 pandemic through physically distancing, being active at home and showing kindness to each other. 

The video has been produced in support of the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Key materials:

News release

Video: Minions and Gru PSA

Update on hydroxychloroquine and the Solidarity Trial 

27 May 2020 

The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on 23 May 2020 and agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally, in light of publications of non-randomised observational evidence on the safety and efficacy of hydroxychloroquine. 

The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and in particular robust randomised available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from hydroxychloroquine.

Deciding to err towards a conservative approach, the Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Committee.

The other arms of the trial are continuing. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.

Key materials:

Solidarity Trial webpage 

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 25 May 2020


WHO releases its manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID-19

26 May 2020 



Key materials:

WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID-19

Video: WHO prescription for a healthy & green COVID-19 recoveryWHO prescription for a healthy & green COVID-19 recovery


WHO, Gavi and UNICEF warn that disruption to routine vaccination leaves at least 80 million children at risk  

22 May 2020 

 COVID 19 is disrupting life-saving immunization services around the world, putting millions of children – in rich and poor countries alike – at risk of diseases like diphtheria, measles and polio. 

Provision of routine immunization services is substantially hindered in at least 68 countries and is likely to affect approximately 80 million children under the age of 1 living in these countries.

Since March 2020, routine childhood immunization services have been disrupted on a global scale that may be unprecedented since the inception of expanded programs on immunization (EPI) in the 1970s. 

The reasons for disrupted services vary. Some parents are reluctant to leave home because of restrictions on movement, lack of information or because they fear infection with the COVID-19 virus. And many health workers are unavailable because of restrictions on travel, or redeployment to COVID response duties, as well as a lack of protective equipment. Transport delays of vaccines are also exacerbating the situation.

Despite the challenges, several countries are making special efforts to continue immunization. Uganda is ensuring that immunization services continue along with other essential health services, even funding transportation to ensure outreach activities. And in Lao PDR, despite a national lockdown imposed in March, routine immunization in fixed sites continued with physical distancing measures in place.

Key materials

Framework for decision-making: implementation of mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 22 May 2020

News release




147th session of the Executive Board goes virtual 

22 May 2020

The session saw Dr Harsh Vardhan, India's Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology, Earth Sciences elected as the new WHO Executive Board chair. 

In his remarks, the Director-General briefly summarized WHO’s work on COVID-19 in seven areas: leadership, analysis, communication, supplies, expertise, research and preparedness. He also called on the global community to redouble its efforts on furthering health and development: 

Key materials 

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the Executive Board

Video recording of Executive Board

Webpage on WHO governance 


WHO receives first-ever donation of insulin

22 May 2020 

Fifty low- and middle-income countries are soon to receive insulin for people with diabetes, thanks to a donation by global health-care company, Novo Nordisk. The donation, of insulin and glucagon, which is used to manage dangerously low blood glucose levels, comes to the value of US$ 1.3 million. It is the first donation in WHO’s history of a medicine for a noncommunicable disease.

Key materials

Web story


WHO and UNHCR join forces to improve health services for refugees, displaced and stateless people

21 May 2020

WHO signed a new agreement with the UN Refugee Agency, with a key aim for 2020 of supporting ongoing efforts to protect some 70 million forcibly displaced people from COVID-19. Around 26 million of these people are refugees, 80 per cent of whom are sheltered in low and middle-income countries with weak health systems. Another 40 million internally displaced people also require assistance.

UNHCR also joined the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which has raised $214m to date. The Fund contributed $10 million to support UNHCR's work on urgent needs related to community engagement, hygiene and medical supplies, isolation units and global preparedness activities.

Key materials

News release


Web page on WHO's work on refugee and migrant health

WHO supports Smithsonian Science Education Center with launch of COVID-19 Guide for Youth

21 May 2020

In collaboration with WHO and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), the Smithsonian Science Education Center has developed a new rapid-response guide for youth ages 8–17.

“COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others" is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and aims to help young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19.

Integrating inquiry-based science education with social and emotional learning and civic engagement, it looks to help them take actions to keep themselves, their families and communities safe.

The Smithsonian Science Education Center will disseminate the information to youth worldwide in collaboration with WHO, IAP, educators, and museum and research center networks. The guide is free and will be available to youth in more than 15 languages, particularly African and Asian languages.

Key materials

Guide: COVID-19! How Can I Protect Myself and Others?

News release

UN launches 'Verified' initiative

21 May 2020

Verified is a UN initiative to encourage us all to check the advice we share, as the world can only contain the coronavirus if every person has access to accurate, reliable information.

By promoting and sharing Verified content – marked by a double tick – everyday people can play a crucial role by giving reliable information about COVID-19 to their friends, families and social networks, with the goal of saving lives and countering misinformation.

Organisations, businesses, civil society and media platforms can partner with Verified to spread information that helps protect people, communities and forges connections across the planet.

Verified’s team of communicators, creatives and researchers produce content based on the latest information and guidance from the UN, WHO and other UN agencies. The team works with leading experts on misinformation, First Draft.

Key materials

'Verified' initiative webpage


WHO releases package on rapid mortality surveillance with partners

21 May 2020

Compared with only using COVID-19 confirmed deaths as a measure of impact, rapid mortality surveillance generates daily or weekly counts of mortality data by age, sex, date of death, place of death and place of usual residence. 

This surveillance provides a more complete picture of impact, particularly for deaths that may be indirectly related to COVID-19. It also addresses the indirect impact caused by disruptions in healthcare access and supply chains. 

When policy-makers can compare estimated weekly number of excess deaths related to COVID-19 compared with pre-pandemic levels, they have a powerful tool to inform their national response and recovery planning.



Key materials:

Revealing the toll of COVID-19: Technical package for rapid mortality surveillance and epidemic response



Day 2 of 73rd World Health Assembly

19 May 2020

At today’s meeting of the 73rd World Health Assembly —its first-ever to be held virtually—delegates adopted a landmark resolution to bring the world together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution, co-sponsored by more than 130 countries, was adopted by consensus.

It calls for the intensification of efforts to control the pandemic, and for equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus. It also calls for an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the global response, including, but not limited to, WHO’s performance.

As WHO convened ministers of health from almost every country in the world, the consistent message throughout the two-day meeting—including from the 14 heads of state participating in the opening and closing sessions —was that global unity is the most powerful tool to combat the outbreak. The resolution is a concrete manifestation of this call, and a roadmap for controlling the outbreak.

In his closing remarks to the Assembly, the DIrector-General outlined how WHO is fighting COVID-19 with every tool at its disposal. 



As with the opening, leaders from around the world spoke during the closing of the Assembly. 



New Executive Board members were elected: 



The World Health Assembly will reconvene later in the year.

Key materials:

Press release

WHO Director-General's closing remarks at the World Health Assembly

World Health Assembly page with video recordings
Main documents for WHA
WHA Journal

Resolution on COVID-19 response

Day 1 of 73rd World Health Assembly

18 May 2020 

The first-ever virtual World Health Assembly kicked off at noon on 18 May with the 'WHO: A global response to a global pandemic' video, shown in 6 languages. 

In his remarks to the Assembly, the Director-General paid tribute to nurses, midwives and all health workers, who have been on the frontlines saving lives. He ended with a call for solidarity.



Leaders from around the world spoke during the opening of the Assembly. 



The Assembly also elected a President and five Vice-Presidents:



Key materials:

World Health Assembly page with livestream

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the World Health Assembly

Main documents for WHA

WHA Journal

'WHO: A global response to a global pandemic' video in: ArabicChineseEnglishFrenchRussianSpanish 

Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee releases interim report on COVID-19 response 

18 May 2020

The Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee (IOAC) provides regular reporting on WHO’s emergencies programme. It was set up at the same time as the programme. 

The IOAC interim report notes that WHO responded more quickly than in previous emergencies and “demonstrated leadership and has made important progress in its COVID-19 response.” The report also provides recommendations for WHO and Member States on how to improve the COVID-19 response.

WHO welcomes the committee’s report, which is part of existing mechanisms to review WHO’s work and ensure a constant feedback loop to improve performance.



Key materials: 

IOAC's interim report


WHO Results Report launched

18 May 2020 

The Results Report provides a comprehensive picture of what WHO, its Member States and partners have achieved in the past two years. 


It gives updates based around three strategic priorities: 1 billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies, and 1 billion more people living with better health and well-being.



Key materials:

Results report




3rd Walk the Talk: Health for All Challenge goes virtual 

16-17 May

Ahead of the 73rd World Health Assembly, WHO's Headquarters, Regional and Country offices joined together to run the third Walk the Talk as an online virtual global relay. 

The two-day event offered opportunities for people to participate in a variety of virtual, timed events, such as yoga, cooking demonstrations, meditation and exercise classes for all ages and abilities. 

Key materials:

WHO teams up with the International Olympic Committee to improve health through sport 

16 May 2020 

WHO signed an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to work together to promote health through sport and physical activity. This collaboration is timely because the current COVID-19 pandemic is particularly affecting people with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The agreement has a special focus on preventing NCDs through sport.

Other areas of collaboration include working with host countries to ensure the health of athletes, supporters and workers at the games as well as addressing NCD risk factors, including water quality and air pollution. The two institutions will also work to ensure that the games leave a healthy legacy in host countries through enhanced awareness of the value of sport and physical activity.

The two organizations also intend to work together promote grassroots and community sports programmes that have a further reach within the general public, particularly among girls, older people and people living with disability who may find it harder to keep active and healthy.

Explainer of WHO and the World Health Assembly

16 May 2020 

Ahead of the first-ever virtual World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO explains what WHO is, what we do, our work to fight COVID-19, what the WHA is, how WHA will work in 2020 and why both WHO and WHA matter so much right now. 

This year, the 73rd WHA will mostly focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Member States will deliver statements, report their progress in fighting coronavirus, share knowledge on the evolving situation and consider a draft resolution on COVID-19.

Key materials

WHO and the WHA – an explainer

Video: WHO protecting health every day, everywhere

Video: Timeline of how WHO has responded to COVID-19

Special World Health Assembly talk with Professor Devi Sridhar

16 May 2020 

Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, helped preview the first-ever virtual World Health Assembly (WHA). 

She presented WHA as an opportunity for countries to report on progress and what they need in the response to COVID-19. Describing science as the "true exit strategy", Professor Sridar also sees WHA as a chance to further develop the research and development roadmap focused on the coronavirus. 

Professor Sridhar outlined how WHO was created to respond to events like the COVID-19 pandemic, as a normative and technical agency that supports member states. She also explained the International Health Regulations, Emergency Committee and significance of declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern – among many other topics. 

Key materials 

Video recording: Special talk about WHA73 with Devi Sridhar


WHO and Costa Rica preview technology pooling initiative

15 May 2020 

Presidents Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica and Sebastián Piñera of Chile joined WHO's Director-General to announce progress on a technology platform that aims to lift access barriers to effective vaccines, medicines and other health products against COVID-19.

The platform will pool data, knowledge and intellectual property for existing or new COVID-19 health products to deliver ‘global public goods’ for all people and all countries. Through the open sharing of science and data, numerous companies will be able to access the information they need to produce the technologies, thereby scaling up availability worldwide, lowering costs and increasing access. 

WHO scientific brief on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents with COVID-19

15 May 2020 

Relatively few cases of infants confirmed to have COVID-19 have been reported; those who are infected have experienced mild illness.

Recently, however, reports from Europe and North America have described clusters of children and adolescents requiring admission to intensive care units with a multisystem inflammatory condition with some features similar to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. 

It is essential to characterize this syndrome and its risk factors, to understand causality, and describe treatment interventions. It is not yet clear the full spectrum of disease, and whether the geographical distribution in Europe and North America reflects a true pattern, or if the condition has simply not been recognized elsewhere.

There is therefore an urgent need for collection of standardized data describing clinical presentations, severity, outcomes, and epidemiology. WHO has developed a preliminary case definition and case report form for multisystem inflammatory disorder in children and adolescents. The case definition will be revised as more data become available. 

In addition to more detail on the above, the Scientific Brief also includes information on the preliminary case definition and Global COVID-19 Clinical Data Platform. 

Key materials 

Scientific Brief: Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents with COVID-19

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 15 May 2020


WHO Gender and COVID-19 Advocacy Brief 

14 May 2020 

The pandemic is impacting women and men differently. 

From risk of exposure and biological susceptibility to infection to the social and economic implications, individuals’ experiences are likely to vary according to their biological and gender characteristics and their interaction with other social determinants.

COVID-19 strategic plans must be grounded in strong gender analysis and ensure meaningful participation of women and girls in decision-making and implementation.

WHO calls on its Member States and all global actors to guide investments in quality and gender-sensitive research on the adverse health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19.

Countries are advised to incorporate a focus on gender into their COVID-19 responses in order to ensure that public health policies and measures to curb the pandemic account for gender and how it interacts with other inequalities.


Key materials 

Advocacy brief: Gender and COVID-19

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 15 May 2020

Video recording of 15 May media briefing


 WHO Academy and WHO Info apps launch

13 May 2020

The WHO Academy app provides health workers with access to up-to the-minute guidance, tools, training, and virtual workshops that will help them care for COVID-19 patients and protect themselves. The app is built around the needs expressed by 20,000 global health workers in a WHO Academy survey.

The WHO Info app aims to inform the general public. Regarding COVID-19, the app will provide updates on the latest case numbers, WHO initiatives, partnerships and the race to find medicines and vaccines for fighting the disease.

Key materials 

News release

Free download of WHO Academy App: Apple App Store
Free download of WHO Academy App: Google Play Store

WHO Academy webpage 


UN Policy Brief on COVID-19 and the need for action on mental health

13 May 2020

An increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety are already being reported in a number of countries in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. A study in Ethiopia in April 2020 reported a 3-fold increase in the prevalence of symptoms of depression compared to estimates from before the epidemic.

Frontline health-care workers, women, children, adolescents, older persons and people with pre-existing mental health conditions are all at particular risk. A rise in alcohol consumption is another area of concern for mental health experts.

The increase in people in need of mental health or psychosocial support has been compounded by the interruption to mental health services in many countries. 

In concrete terms, it is critical that people living with mental health conditions have continued access to treatment. Many countries have changed their approach to the provision of this support in ways that are showing signs of success.

Support for community actions that strengthen social cohesion and reduce loneliness, particularly for the most vulnerable, must also continue.

Key materials:

UN Policy Brief on COVID-19 and the need for action on mental health 

News release: Substantial investment needed to avert mental health crisis

WHO web page: Mental health and COVID-19


Launch of joint campaign with UK government to counter misinformation

11 May 2020

WHO has joined forces with the UK government to run 'Stop The Spread', a global campaign to raise awareness about the risks of misinformation around COVID-19 and encourage people to double-check information with trusted sources such as WHO and national health authorities.

BBC World News and will feature the campaign.

'Stop The Spread' will reach audiences across Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Latin America. The UK government will offer a toolkit of the campaign assets to partner governments to translate and use in their countries to ensure a unified message across borders.


WHO statement on tobacco use and COVID-19

11 May 2020 

COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. Smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other diseases. Tobacco is also a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes which put people with these conditions at higher risk for developing severe illness when affected by COVID-19. 

WHO is constantly evaluating new research, including research that examines the link between tobacco use, nicotine use, and COVID-19. A review of studies by public health experts convened by WHO on 29 April 2020 found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.

WHO urges researchers, scientists and the media to be cautious about amplifying unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of COVID-19. There is currently insufficient information to confirm any link between tobacco or nicotine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.



Key materials:

WHO statement: Tobacco use and COVID-19
WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 May 2020


#AskWHO on breastfeeding during COVID-19

11 May 2020

Dr Pura Rayco-Solon, from WHO's Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, answered questions on breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. She emphasised that there is no evidence so far that the virus is transmitted through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides numerous health and developmental benefits for both infants and mothers.

Key materials

YouTube recording: #AskWHO with Dr Pura Rayco-Solon

News item: New FAQs address healthcare workers questions on breastfeeding and COVID-19

FAQs: Breastfeeding and COVID-19 for health care workers

Q&A on COVID-19 and breastfeeding


COVID-19-related service disruptions could cause hundreds of thousands of extra deaths from HIV

11 May 2020 

New modelling on HIV convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS highlights the importance of taking immediate steps to minimise interruptions in health services and supplies of antiretroviral drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The worst case scenario considered by the modelling group was a 6-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy. The group suggested that this could lead to more than 500 000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa over the next year. 

At a media briefing today the WHO Director-General said that the modelling should be a “wake-up call,” and that despite attention being focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, we must still ensure that global supplies of tests and treatments for both HIV and TB reach the countries and communities that need them most.



Key materials

Joint news release with UNAIDS

Jewell B, Mudimu E, Stover J, et al for the HIV Modelling consortium, Potential effects of disruption to HIV programmes in sub-Saharan Africa caused by COVID-19: results from multiple models. Pre-print

Alexandra B. Hogan, Britta Jewell, Ellie Sherrard-Smith et al. The potential impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on HIV, TB and malaria in low- and middle-income countries. Imperial College London (01-05-2020).

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 May 2020


New guidance on surveillance strategies for COVID-19 human infection

10 May 2020

This guidance document provides an overview of strategies that Member States should consider as part of comprehensive national surveillance for COVID-19. It emphasises the need to adapt and reinforce existing national systems where appropriate and to scale-up surveillance capacities as needed.

Generally speaking, digital technologies for rapid reporting, data management, and analysis will be helpful. Robust comprehensive surveillance should be maintained even in areas where there are few or no cases; it is critical that new cases and clusters are detected rapidly and before widespread disease transmission occurs. Ongoing surveillance is also important to understand longer-term trends in the disease and the evolution of the virus. 

Surveillance can be community-based and take place at the primary care level. Existing sentinel surveillance of influenza-like illness (ILI) or acute respiratory infection (ARI) is useful to monitor COVID-19 transmission trends. There should also be enhanced surveillance for residential facilities and vulnerable groups.

Key materials:

Surveillance strategies for COVID-19 human infection

Operational considerations for COVID-19 surveillance using GISRS: interim guidance

Critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19

New guidance on contact tracing

10 May 2020 

Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission. When systematically applied, contact tracing will break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 and is an essential public health tool for controlling the virus. 

Contact tracing for COVID-19 requires identifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and following them up daily for 14 days from the last point of exposure. 

This document provides guidance on how to establish contact tracing capacity for the control of COVID-19, covering issues such as the ideal profile of a contact tracer and what to do if a contact cannot be reached. 

Critical elements of the implementation of contact tracing are community engagement and public support; careful planning and consideration of local contexts, communities, and cultures; a workforce of trained contact tracers and supervisors; logistics support to contact tracing teams; and a system to collate, compile, and analyse data in real-time.

Key materials:

Contact tracing in the context of COVID-19

Considerations in the investigation of cases and clusters of COVID-19


Considerations for public health and social measures in the workplace

10 May 2020 

New guidance from WHO outlines measures to protect against COVID-19 in workplaces. 

It covers carrying out a workplace risk assessment and outlines measures for all workplaces in the areas of hand and respiratory hygiene; physical distancing; reduction and management of work-related travel; regular environmental cleaning and disinfection; risk communication, training and education; and management of people with COVID-19 or their contacts. There are also specific measures for workplaces and jobs at medium and high risk. 

In addition, the guidance provides an overview of the rights, duties and responsibilities of workers and employers, as well as advice on developing action plans for COVID-19 prevention and mitigation. 

This document is an Annex to existing WHO guidance on 'Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19'.



Key materials:

Considerations for public health and social measures in the workplace in the context of COVID-19

Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 May 2020

Video: Preventing COVID-19 in your workplace or while teleworking



Considerations for school-related public health measures 

10 May 2020

New guidance released this week outlines what should be considered when deciding to close or reopen schools, what we know about COVID-19 and children, and questions to ask in assessing the ability to maintain prevention and control measures. 

To reopen schools, the document recommends measures relating to hygiene and daily practices, as well as physical distancing and tele-schooling. It also covers monitoring of schools after re-opening. 

The document was developed in consultation with UNICEF, IFRC and WHO Regional Offices. It is an Annex to existing WHO guidance on 'Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19'.



Key materials: 

Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19

Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 May 2020


WHO Statement on false allegations in Der Spiegel

9 May 2020

Der Spiegel reports of a 21 January, 2020, telephone conversation between WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and President Xi Jingping of China are unfounded and untrue.

Dr Tedros and President Xi did not speak on 21 January and they have never spoken by telephone.

Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

To note: China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus on 20 January.

Key materials:

News release

40th anniversary of global eradication of smallpox holds lessons for overcoming COVID-19

8 May 2020 

On May 8 1980, the World Health Assembly confirmed the eradication of smallpox, marking the end of a disease that had plagued humanity for at least 3000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone. 

It was ended thanks to a 10-year global effort, spearheaded by the World Health Organization, that involved thousands of health workers around the world to administer half a billion vaccinations to stamp out smallpox. 

Speaking at a virtual event hosted at WHO-HQ, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus outlined what the eradication of smallpox can teach us about using basic public health solutions, science and solidarity to rise to the challenge of COVID-19.

"Many of the basic public health tools that were used successfully then are the same tools that have been used to respond to Ebola, and to COVID-19: disease surveillance, case finding, contact tracing, and mass communication campaigns to inform affected populations.” 

Smallpox eradication was only possible because of a safe and effective vaccine. With COVID-19, WHO is working to drive forward the ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator’, which aims to ensure that new health technologies will be developed, manufactured and distributed equitably.

Dr Tedros noted that humanity’s victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat: "The decisive factor in the victory over smallpox was global solidarity. At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States of America joined forces to conquer a common enemy. They recognized that viruses do not respect nations or ideologies.” 


Key materials 

UN issues $6.7 billion appeal to protect millions in fragile countries

7 May 2020 

An update to the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan was launched today by the Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Mike Ryan; UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock; President and CEO of Oxfam America, Abby Maxman; UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi; and Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley. 

Dr Ryan emphasized that helping the most vulnerable to confront COVID-19 is not just a moral imperative, it is in enlightened self interest: "It is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. We won't be safe – anywhere on this planet – until all people are safe."

Key materials:

Global Humanitarian Response Plan: May Update

UN News Story: UN and partners launch $6.7 billion appeal for vulnerable countries

YouTube recording: Release of updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan


New guidance on preparedness and response in low capacity and humanitarian settings

7 May 2020 

COVID-19 prevention and control measures can be difficult to implement in humanitarian crises or places with low capacity. Testing, isolating and treating people with COVID-19 and tracing their contacts is also challenging in places with weaker health systems. 

Public health and social measures in these settings must be balanced against other risks, such as lack of income, limited access to basic services, food insecurity, and lack of a social safety net. Measures also need to be pragmatic and leverage the strengths of local structures and systems, notably through social mobilization and strong community engagement. 

This interim guidance outlines how to adapt COVID-19 prevention and response measures for use in low capacity and humanitarian settings. 



Key materials:

Interim guidance on public health and social measures for COVID-19 preparedness and response in low capacity and humanitarian settings



Video summarises key moments in the response so far

6 May 2020 

Since first learning of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China on 31 December, WHO has been responding rapidly, working to help countries, communities and individuals keep safe from COVID-19. WHO has issued guidance, convened scientists, called for more equipment for health workers and more. 


Key materials:

Video: How has WHO responded to COVID-19

WHO's Legal Counsel explains how observer status at the World Health Assembly is determined

6 May 2020

In an answer to a journalist's question, WHO's Legal Counsel Derek Walton outlined that the World Health Assembly on 18 and 19 May 2020 will be held virtually, as a de minimis session, which means it will focus principally on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He went on to explain that the involvement of observers is a question for the member governments of WHO and that WHO's Secretariat does not decide on such matters. 

Key materials: 

COVID-19 Virtual Press conference transcript: 6 May 2020

YouTube recording: WHO Legal Counsel Derek Walton - WHO COVID-19 Daily Press briefing on 06/05/20


WHO marks the International Day of the Midwife and Hand Hygiene Day 

5 May 2020

Hand Hygiene Day mobilizes people around the world to increase adherence to hand hygiene in health care facilities. This year, the campaign theme, “Save Lives: Clean your hands”, is aligned with the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and highlights the critical role of nurses and midwives in infection prevention, protecting health care workers and patients.

International Day of the Midwife paid tribute to midwives for continuing to show resilience and provide life-saving services to pregnant women, ensuring healthy outcomes for women and their babies – all amidst the COVID 19 pandemic. 



Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth Iro took part in the #SafeHands challenge and also visited Geneva University Hospital (HUG) to show WHO's support for nurses and midwives and help promote the message of cleaning hands to save lives. 



In an online feature story, WHO told the story of Sania, a midwife in a governmental hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan, who reassured Razia, a 25-year-old woman expecting her second child, about how she could take COVID-19 precautions to feel more confident after a complicated first birth. The piece went on to detail how patient safety is being improved in Pakistan’s hospitals. 



Key materials:

International Day of the Midwife 2020 webpage

Hand Hygiene Day webpage 

Nurses and midwives are critical to teaching hand hygiene in Pakistan

YouTube video by Professor Pittet and WHO's Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth Iro presenting the 'Save Lives: Clean Your Hands' campaign

YouTube video with the Director-General on Hand Hygiene Day - “Nurses and midwives, clean care is in your hands!”


WHO launches COVID-19 Supply Portal 

5 May 2020 

Accessible via the COVID-19 Partners Platform, WHO launches a purpose-built tool to facilitate and consolidate submission of supply requests from national authorities and all implementing partners supporting COVID-19 National Action Plans. 

Key materials:

COVID-19 Partners Platform


UN leaders speak to young people in Global Classroom event

5 May 2020

The Director-General joined Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, Samuel Eto’o, global ambassador for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and a range of other speakers for an online ‘global classroom’ to help young people around the world learn more about COVID-19. 



Key materials:

Global Classroom webpage

Video recording of Global Classroom event


WHO's Principal Legal Officer responds to question about 31 December 2019 email sent by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control

4 May 2020

Answering a journalist's question, WHO's Principal Legal Officer Steve Solomon said that Taiwan did not 'warn' WHO on 31 December 2019. They sent an email with a request for more information on cases of atypical pneumonia, reported by news sources.

Key materials:

Video recording of 4 May media briefing

WHO Principal Legal Officer Steven Solomon - WHO Daily Press briefing on 04/05/20

WHO-supported course for journalists on how to cover COVID-19 begins

4 May 2020

Taught by science journalist and author Maryn McKenna, this course covers the recent history of the COVID-19 pandemic, past warnings that could have prevented or mitigated it, excellent journalism on the outbreak and insights from scientific experts.

The course is by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with WHO and UNESCO, with support from the Knight Foundation and UN Development Program. 

Key materials:

Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future


Global pledging event raises over €7.4 billion for COVID-19 research and development

4 May 2020 

Leaders from 40 countries came together to support the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator through the COVID-19 Global Response International Pledging Event, hosted by the EU Commission. 

During the event, some €7.4 billion was pledged for research and development for COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. 

In his address to the pledging event, the WHO Director-General said: 

"The ultimate measure of success will not be how fast we can develop tools – it will be how equally we can distribute them.

None of us can accept a world in which some people are protected while others remain exposed.

This is an opportunity not only to defeat a common enemy, but to forge a common future; a future in which all people enjoy the right to the highest attainable standard of health – and the products that deliver that right. Health for all." 



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 4 May 2020
WHO Director-General's opening remarks at on-line pledging event hosted by the European Commission

Video recording of 4 May media briefing



New partnership with European Investment Bank announced 

1 May 2020 

WHO and the European Investment Bank (EIB) will boost cooperation to strengthen public health, supply of essential equipment, training, and investment in countries most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase will address urgent needs and strengthen primary health care in ten African countries. The agreement establishes a close collaboration to overcome market failure and stimulate investments in global health, accelerating progress towards Universal Health Coverage. 



Key materials:

News release: WHO and European Investment Bank strengthen efforts to combat COVID-19 and build resilient health systems to face future pandemics

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 1 May 2020

Video recording of 1 May media briefing 


Emergency Committee meets for third time on COVID-19 

30 April 2020

The Emergency Committee met on 30 April and issued its statement on 1 May. 

Membership of the Emergency Committee was expanded to reflect the nature of the pandemic and the need to include additional areas of expertise.

The Committee unanimously agreed that the outbreak still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and offered advice to the Director-General, who declared that the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to constitute a PHEIC.

The Committee issued advice to WHO on: coordination, planning, and monitoring; One Health; essential health services; risk communication and community engagement; surveillance and travel and trade. 

The Committee also issued advice to all States Parties on: coordination and collaboration; preparedness; surveillance; additional health measures; health workers; food security; One Health; risk communication and community engagement; research and development; and essential health services. 

Key materials: 

Statement on the third meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 1 May 2020

Video recording of 1 May media briefing


The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) marks its 20th anniversary

28 April 2020 

Fully engaged in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, GOARN partners are commemorating the anniversary by sharing their COVID-19 response activities internationally and nationally to raise awareness of the value of this collaborative model, particularly when every nation faces the same health threat at the same time.

GOARN is supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response through the deployment of experts to support teams in countries and for high-level assessment missions, remote access to expert advice to inform outbreak risk assessments and operational planning, addressing research gaps, the development of innovative tools and much more.



Key materials: 

GOARN notice of 20th anniversary 

Anniversary call to all GOARN partners

Video: Go with GOARN


WHO addresses parliamentarians on COVID-19 pandemic 

28 April 2020 

The WHO Director-General, Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme and COVID-19 Technical Lead addressed the Inter-Parliamentary Union's webinar on reducing risks, strengthening emergency preparedness and increasing resilience. 



Key materials:

Webinar link on IPU website

WHO Twitter thread of the Director-General's remarks

WHO/Europe publishes guidance on the gradual easing of measures taken in response to COVID-19

24 April 2020

WHO's Regional Office for Europe has published key considerations for the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions introduced by many countries in response to the spread of COVID-19 across the European Region.

The transition out of lockdown is set to be a complex and uncertain phase. Challenges and circumstances vary from country to country and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It is vital that countries clearly communicate this to the public to build trust and ensure that people observe restrictions specific to their situation.

On 17 April, WHO's Regional Director for Europe briefed Ministries of Health about the upcoming guidance.



Key materials: 

News item

Technical guidance


16 April statement by WHO's Regional Director for Europe


Global leaders unite to ensure equitable access new vaccines, tests and treatments for COVID-19

24 April 2020

At a virtual event with heads of state and global health leaders WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the launch of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, or the ACT Accelerator. This is a landmark collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for COVID-19.

“We will only halt COVID-19 through solidarity,” said Dr Tedros. “Countries, health partners, manufacturers, and the private sector must act together and ensure that the fruits of science and research can benefit everybody.”

The event was co-hosted by the World Health Organization, the President of France, the President of the European Commission, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



Key materials:

News release

Call to Action (web version)


OpenWHO reaches 2 million course enrollments

23 April 2020 

WHO's online learning platform, OpenWHO, offers free COVID-19 training from WHO experts in 17 languages. Recent additions include courses for health workers on good hand hygiene and  putting on and removing personal protective equipment



Key materials:

OpenWHO's COVID-19 course channel 


2020 could see a doubling of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 2018

23 April 2020

A modelling analysis released today considered scenarios for potential disruptions in access to core malaria control tools during the COVID-19 pandemic in 41 countries. 

Under the worst-case scenario, in which all insecticide-treated net (ITN) campaigns are suspended and there is a 75% reduction in access to effective antimalarial medicines, the estimated tally of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 would reach 769 000, twice the number of deaths reported in the region in 2018. This would represent a return to malaria mortality levels last seen 20 years ago.

Countries across the region have a critical window of opportunity to minimize disruptions in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak.



WHO and partners have developed guidance on the prevention of infection through vector control and chemoprevention, testing, treatment of cases, clinical services, supply chain and laboratory activities.

Key materials:


Guidance: Tailoring malaria interventions in the COVID-19 response

The potential impact of health service disruptions on the burden of malaria: a modelling analysis for countries in sub-Saharan Africa



WHO collaborates with WTO on resolving disruption to global supply chains 

20 April 2020 

WHO and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are collaborating to secure vital medical supply lines - ensuring normal cross-border flows and resolving unnecessary disruptions to global supply chains. 

In a joint statement, WHO and WTO called on Members to continue to ensure that health technologies – including diagnostics, medicines, vaccines and supplies vital to treating COVID-19 patients – reach those in need quickly.



Key materials:

Joint statement by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


New joint effort to reach billions who are offline with vital health information

20 April 2020

The World Health Organization and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), with support from UNICEF, are set to work with telecommunication companies to text people on their mobile phones with vital health messaging to help protect them from COVID-19. These text messages will reach people that aren’t able to connect to the internet for information. 

Around the world, an estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline, with most people who are unconnected living in low-income countries.The collaboration will start in the Asia Pacific region and then roll out globally. The goal is to reach everyone with vital health messages, whatever their connectivity level.



Key materials: 
ITU-WHO Joint Statement: Unleashing information technology to defeat COVID-19


WHO Director-General addresses the G20 Health Ministers virtual meeting

19 April 2020 

The Director-General thanked the G20 Health Ministers for their commitment to a coordinated approach to responding to COVID-19 and the G20 Summit’s recent statement of support for WHO’s role. 

He also made three requests:

"First, we urge each of your countries to continue to fight the pandemic with determination, guided by science and evidence.

Second, we are looking to the G20 countries to continue to support the global response to COVID-19.

Third, we call on all G20 countries to work together to increase the production and equitable distribution of essential supplies, and to remove trade barriers that put health workers and their patients at risk."



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's remarks at the G20 Health Ministers virtual meeting Saudi Arabia - 19 April 2020

WHO Director-General Twitter thread on G20 Health Minister meeting


WHO makes joint UN call to fund the global emergency logistics system

19 April 2020

Together with 14 other humanitarian organizations, WHO called on the donor community to urgently support the global emergency supply system to fight COVID-19 with an initial US$350 million to enable a rapid scale-up of logistics common services.



Key materials:

Joint statement: UN agencies issue urgent call to fund the global emergency supply system to fight COVID-19



One World: Together At Home concert 

18 April 2020 

WHO and Global Citizen co-hosted a global on-air special to celebrate and support frontline healthcare workers. 

Curated in collaboration with Lady Gaga, the broadcast included appearances by Andrea Bocelli, Chris Martin, Eddie Vedder, Elton John, FINNEAS, Idris and Sabrina Elba, John Legend, Lang Lang, Lizzo, Maluma, Paul McCartney, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Shah Rukh Khan and Stevie Wonder.

This historic global event was hosted by TV show hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert. It also featured real experiences from doctors, nurses and families around the world.

Benefits from the concert will go to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, in addition to local and regional charities that provide food, shelter and healthcare to those that need help most. 

Watch messages from the Director-General and WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, Dr Maria Van Kerkove from the broadcast. 



Key materials:

Recording: ‘One World: Together At Home’ global special 

News release announcing the concert 


Interim guidance on adjusting "lockdown" measures issued 

16 April 2020 

WHO issued guidance on considerations in adjusting public health and social measures, such as large-scale movement restrictions. To minimise the risk of a resurgence when lifting "lockdowns", countries should use six criteria. 

They should assess whether transmission is controlled; health system capacities are in place; outbreak risks in special settings like nursing homes are minimised; preventive measures are enacted in places that are essential for people to go to; importation risks can be managed and communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the “new norm”. 





Key materials: 

Interim guidance: Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures


How the World Health Organization works with all people, everywhere

15 April 2020



"Our mandate is to work to promote the health of all people everywhere...without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition." Steven Solomon, Principal Legal Officer, WHO.


Interim Ramadan guidance issued 

15 April 2020 

The guidance includes advice on issues such as: making informed decisions about conducting religious and social gatherings, physical distancing and fasting. 



Key materials:

Safe Ramadan practices in the context of the COVID-19: interim guidance
Statement by EMRO's Regional Director on Ramadan during the pandemic



A relentless commitment to science, solutions and solidarity

15 April 2020

Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, WHO's Director-General stressed that our "commitment to public health, science and to serving all the people of the world without fear or favour remains absolute."



"The United States of America has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO, and we hope it will continue to be so.

We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization.

With support from the people and government of the United States, WHO works to improve the health of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

In due course, WHO’s performance in tackling this pandemic will be reviewed by WHO’s Member States and the independent bodies that are in place to ensure transparency and accountability. This is part of the usual process put in place by our Member States.

No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn.

But for now, our focus – my focus – is on stopping this virus and saving lives.

WHO is grateful to the many nations, organizations and individuals who have expressed their support and commitment to WHO in recent days, including their financial commitment.

We welcome this demonstration of global solidarity, because solidarity is the rule of the game to defeat COVID-19.

WHO is getting on with the job."

Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 15 April 2020



WHO launches a chatbot on Facebook Messenger to combat COVID-19 misinformation

14 April 2020 

WHO has launched a Facebook Messenger version of its WHO Health Alert platform – offering instant and accurate information about COVID-19.

With this use of Facebook Messenger, and other communication channels related to it, WHO Health Alert has the potential to reach 4.2 billion people – helping people protect themselves from COVID-19, prevent the spread of the virus, and understand the facts related to the disease.



Key materials: 

Web story

Message WHO on Facebook Messenger 


Measles and Rubella Initiative responds to COVID-19

14 April 2020 

As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, over 117 million children in 37 countries may miss out on receiving life-saving measles vaccines. 

The Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) strongly agrees with the recommendation in WHO guidelinesthat governments temporarily pause preventive immunization campaigns where there is no active outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. However, the M&RI also urges countries to continue routine immunization services, while ensuring the safety of communities and health workers. 

WHO asks governments to undertake a careful risk-benefit analysis when deciding whether to delay vaccination campaigns in response to outbreaks, with the possibility of postponement where risks of COVID-19 transmission are deemed unacceptably high.



The Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) is a global partnership, founded by the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection, UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation and WHO. 

Key materials:

Statement by the Measles & Rubella Initiative: WHO, American Red Cross, U.S. CDC, UNICEF and UN Foundation 

Guidelines for immunization during COVID-19



COVID-19 Strategy Update released

14 April 2020 

The COVID-19 strategy update provides guidance for countries preparing for a phased transition from widespread transmission to a steady state of low-level or no transmission. 

It aims for all countries to control the pandemic by mobilizing all sectors and communities to prevent and suppress community transmission, reduce mortality and develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics. 



Key materials:

COVID-19 Strategy Update



Major update to COVID-19 dashboard

14 April 2020

Supported by the WHO Technology for COVID-19 initiative, a pro-bono collaboration of technology companies, WHO released a substantial update to its COVID-19 information dashboard. 

Users can view:

  • A mobile-friendly version of the dashboard. 
  • New and confirmed cases and deaths globally with daily statistics.
  • National info by clicking on any country on the interactive map.
  • Reported cases by WHO region including daily and cumulative statistics.
  • Confirmed cases and deaths, and changes over time in a specific country, region, or territory, on the interactive chart.
  • A new explorer tab designed to provide complex datasets for easy access and use, with variables selectable across three axes.

In future, the platform should be updated with new data sets from national and sub-national levels, as well as clinical trials and country-specific public health measures. 



Key materials:

COVID-19 information dashboard

Feature story: WHO updates COVID-19 dashboard with better data visualization



Major relief airlift will bring vital medical supplies to all African nations

14 April 2020 

Today the first United Nations “Solidarity Flight” departed from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From there, vital medical cargo will be transported to all countries in Africa, where supplies are desperately needed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

WHO cargo is being transported by the World Food Programme (WFP), and includes a large quantity of medical supplies donated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Jack Ma Foundation Initiative to reverse COVID-19 in Africa. The African Union, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), is providing technical support and coordination for the distribution of the supplies.

The crucial WHO cargo includes laboratory supplies to support surveillance and detection, one million face masks, and enough personal protective equipment to enable health workers to care for more than 30 000 patients across the continent.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates generously supported this operation, with WHO’s regional logistics hub in Dubai playing a key role in making sure the supplies are prepared and shipped to where they are most needed.



Key materials:

Joint AU-WFP-WHO News Release



Expert group forms to collaborate on vaccine development 

13 April 2020 

Coordinated by WHO, scientists, physicians, funders and manufacturers have come together to help speed up the availability of a vaccine against COVID-19.  



Key materials

Public statement for collaboration on COVID-19 vaccine development



Five Heroic Acts campaign goes live 

10 April 2020 




COVID-19 response reaches the 100 day mark

9 April 2020 

Since WHO was notified of the first cases of “pneumonia with unknown cause” in China., we have been working day and night in five key areas.

First, we’ve worked to support countries in building their capacity to prepare and respond. 

Second, we’ve worked with numerous partners to provide accurate information and fight the infodemic.

Third, we’re working hard to ensure supplies of essential medical equipment for frontline health workers. 

Fourth, we’re working to train and mobilize health workers.

Fifth, we’ve accelerated research and development.



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 8 April 2020

Twitter thread timeline of key events from the first 100 days

Timeline statement 



Book released to help children and young people cope with COVID-19

9 April 2020

“My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!”, a new story book to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19 has been produced by a collaboration of more than 50 organizations working in the humanitarian sector. 

More than 1700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world shared how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped script writer and illustrator Helen Patuck and the project team ensure the book resonated with children from different backgrounds. 



Howard Donald gave the book's first public reading, as part of the #ReadTheWorld initiative, run by WHO, UNICEF and the International Publishers Association.

Key materials:

News release of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

'My Hero is You, Storybook for Children on COVID-19 (PDF available in 12 languages) 



Launch of the UN COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force

8 April 2020

The Secretary-General Antonio Guterres brought all UN agencies together to contribute to the Supply Chain Task Force, which will focus on dramatically scaling up the supply of life-saving tools and matching supply with needs. 



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 8 April 2020

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 10 April 2020


"Please quarantine politicising COVID-19" 

8 April 2020 

The WHO Director-General appealed for national unity and global solidarity in responding to COVID-19.



To help alleviate suffering and save lives, WHO has been working night and day in five key ways: 

1. Helping build countries' capacity to prepare and respond

2. Providing accurate information and fight the infodemic, together with numerous partners

3. Ensuring supplies of essential medical equipment for frontline health workers.

4. Training and mobilizing health workers. 

5. Accelerating research and development. 

Key materials:

YouTube recording of WHO Director-General's opening remarks

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 8 April 2020



New tools to help hospitals manage surge in COVID-19 patients

8 April 2020

WHO has released three surge calculators to help with forecasting supplies, diagnostics, equipment requirements, beds needed and estimating how many of each type of health worker are required each day. 



Key materials:

EURO news release

WHO COVID-19 Essential Supplies Forecasting Tool (ESFT) - as of 30 March 2020

Adaptt Surge Planning Support Tool - 8 April 2020

Health Workforce Estimator - 8 April 2020

Latest technical guidance for resource planning



Ad-hoc consultation on managing the COVID-19 infodemic

8-9 April 2020

Bringing together scientists, public health decision-makers, medical journalists, technology and social media platforms and civil society, this consultation aimed to develop a framework for interventions to help share reliable information, while reducing misinformation, rumours and myths about COVID-19. 

Topics included raising awareness of the volume of information on the Internet, perceptions of the use of qualified sources for health decision-making and strengthening digital literacy. 




Nurses and midwives celebrated on World Health Day

7 April 2020 

In this International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, World Health Day highlights the critical role played by nurses and midwives, who are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response globally. 



Our #ThanksHealthHeroes challenge launches, calling on individuals to tell the world about a nurse or a midwife they are personally grateful to.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth Iro held a Facebook Live discussion on COVID-19 with nurses and midwives in Pakistan, Iran, Italy and Malawi. 

Key materials:

The State of the World’s Nursing Report - 2020

World Health Day Campaign page 

#ThanksHealthHeroes Challenge page

Facebook Live on COVID-19 and nursing 


133 countries provided with critical supplies

7 April 2020 

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Operations Support and Logistics (OSL) unit at WHO has shipped more than 900 000 surgical masks, 62 000 N95 masks, 1 million gloves, 115 000 gowns, 17 000 goggles and 34 000 face shields to 133 countries. 

OSL has also shipped COVID-19 testing kits to 126 countries.

Key materials:

Situation Report 78 - 7 April 2020

Advice on the use of masks

6 April 2020 

WHO issued updated guidance on masks, including a new section on advice to decision-makers on mask use by healthy people in communities. 



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 6 April 2020

Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19

WHO Twitter thread on use of masks



WHO launches #BeActive campaign with FIFA 

6 April 2020 

WHO has joined forces with FIFA to launch the #BeActive campaign on the UN International Day of Sport for Development and Peace to encourage people to be #HealthyAtHome as the world comes together in the fight against COVID-19, today and every day.

The campaign kicks off with Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC asking football fans to set aside their rivalries and to come together to #BeActive.

Key materials:

News release

Launch video with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool FC) and Marcus Rashford (Manchester United FC)



WHO helps boost availability of COVID-19 laboratory supplies in Iraq 

5 April 2020 

With a global shortage of supplies and equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic, WHO and Basra University are successfully producing urgently needed laboratory items for testing suspected COVID-19 cases in Iraq.



Key materials:

News release

UN News article



Mission to Spain concludes 

4 April 2020 

Dr Bruce Aylward, Special Adviser to the WHO Director-General, shared findings from his recent mission to Spain at a press briefing held by WHO's Regional Office for Europe. 

Dr Aylward noted that health-care workers in Spain have worked tirelessly under difficult circumstances to treat COVID-19 patients. The Government introduced strict lockdown measures which helped the country to slow the spread of the disease and gain time to reorganize its health system.

Dr Aylward remarked that while COVID-19 led to the hospitalization of many people over the age of 60, there is also a substantial number of younger people in intensive care units and in need of professional care.



Key materials: 

Press conference summary

Statement by WHO's Regional Director for Europe



IMF and WHO make joint call to protect lives & livelihoods 

3 April 2020 

WHO held a joint press conference with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaking and taking questions.

The conference covered the profound economic impacts of the pandemic, highlighting the importance of debt relief to avoid economic collapse and social welfare programs to ensure people have essentials. 

The WHO Director-General and IMF Managing Director also co-authored an op-ed arguing that the trade-off between saving lives or jobs is a false dilemma. 



Key materials:

YouTube recording of media briefing

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 April 2020

Opening remarks by Kristalina Georgieva

Op-ed by Kristalina Georgieva and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus



Trio of broadcasters donate free airtime to WHO 

2 April 2020

BBC Global News, CNN International and Euronews have come together for their first joint initiative to donate free airtime to public health bodies for the promotion of messages to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

WHO is the first body to take up the offer. Its initial campaign will focus on seven steps to prevent the spread of the virus and will run across all three broadcasters. 

Key materials

Press release from BBCCNN and Euronews


#HealthyAtHome campaign begins 

2 April 2020

WHO is providing advice to help you and your family be healthy at home, with tips on staying physically active, looking after our mental health, quitting tobacco and healthy parenting. 

We are also encouraging people to share how they are staying #HealthyAtHome as part of our new challenge. 



Key materials:

#HealthyAtHome campaign website

Challenge launch video



'Read the World' launches on International Children’s Book Day

2 April 2020

WHO joined with UNICEF and the International Publishers Association to launch a reading initiative to support children and young people in isolation. 

The collaboration began with a reading by Italian author Elisabetta Dami, creator of the popular character Geronimo Stilton.



Key materials:

News release



Polio programme supports COVID-19 response

2 April 2020 

To reduce the risk of increasing transmission of COVID-19, the Polio Oversight Board made the difficult decision to suspend house-to-house vaccination campaigns. For the next four to six months, Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) programmatic and operational assets and human resources, from global to country level, will be made available to enable a strong response to COVID-19, while maintaining critical polio functions, such as surveillance and global vaccine supply management.



Key materials: 

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 April 2020

Global Polio Eradication Initiative's Call to action to support COVID-19 response

Nigeria’s polio infrastructure bolsters COVID-19 response



New tool to analyse COVID-19 responses across Europe launched

2 April 2020 

The COVID-19 Health System Response Monitor (HSRM) online platform is a joint undertaking between the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the European Commission and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. It will systematically map and analyse responses, offer cross-country comparisons and track wider public health initiatives. 



Key materials: 

EURO press release

COVID-19 Health System Response Monitor


WHO in Africa holds first ‘hackathon’ for COVID-19

1 April 2020 

WHO’s Regional Office for Africa hosted a virtual ‘hackathon’ bringing together 100 leading innovators to pioneer creative local solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and to address critical gaps in the regional response. 

Proposals ranged from mobile-driven self-diagnosis, screening and mapping tools to alternative low-cost methods for producing personal protective equipment (PPE). The three highest ranking groups will now receive seed funding and WHO support to help develop and implement their solutions. 



Key materials:

News release



WHO launches chatbot with Rakuten Viber

31 March 2020 

Viber is a free messaging and calling app. Once subscribed to the WHO Viber chatbot, users will receive notifications with the latest news and information directly from WHO. Users can also learn how to protect themselves and test their knowledge on coronavirus through an interactive quiz that helps bust myths. 



Key materials: 

WHO Viber service

Web story



Falsified medical products, including in vitro diagnostics, that claim to prevent, detect, treat or cure COVID-19

31 March 2020

This Medical Product Alert warns consumers, healthcare professionals, and health authorities against a growing number of falsified medical products that claim to prevent, detect, treat or cure COVID-19. 

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic (caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2) has increased demand for medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and reagents, all related to COVID-19, creating an opportunity for ill-intended persons to distribute falsified medical products 

Due diligence is required from all actors in the procurement, use and administration of medical products, in particular those affected by the current crisis of, or related to, COVID-19. 

At this stage, WHO does not recommend any medicines to treat or cure COVID-19. However, the SOLIDARITY trial, led by WHO, is reviewing potential treatments for COVID-19. 

Key documents:

News Release

Medical Product Alert N°3/2020

Updated guidance on maintaining access to health services 

30 March 2020

Previous outbreaks have shown that when health systems are overwhelmed, deaths from vaccine-preventable and other treatable conditions can also increase dramatically. 

WHO has updated operational planning guidelines to help countries balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19 while maintaining essential health service delivery, protecting health care workers and mitigating the risk of system collapse.



Key materials:

Operational guidance for maintaining essential health services during an outbreak

News release on maintaining essential services

New guide to help countries expand access to essential medicines


WHO WhatsApp health alert launches in Arabic, French and Spanish

27 March 2020

Today, WHO is launching dedicated messaging services in Arabic, French and Spanish with partners WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from coronavirus. This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.

From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, this messaging service will provide the latest news and information on coronavirus including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others. It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real-time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.

The service can be accessed by a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. Users can simply type “hi”, "salut", "hola" or "مرحبا" to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

Join WHO's Health Alert on WhatsApp: 


Send "مرحبا"  to +41 22 501 70 23 on WhatsAppمرحبا


Send "salut" to +41 22 501 72 98 on WhatsApp


Send "hola" to +41 22 501 76 90 on WhatsApp


Send "hi" to +41 79 893 18 92 on WhatsApp



Extraordinary Virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 


26 March 2020 

Addressing the Extraordinary Summit on COVID-19, chaired by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the WHO Director-General called on G20 leaders to fight, unite, and ignite against COVID-19. 




Key materials:

News release

WHO Director General's remarks at the Extraordinary Virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 - 26 March 2020


Mission to Egypt concludes 

25 March 2020 

The team of experts noted the "significant work" being done by Egypt, "especially in the areas of early detection, laboratory testing, isolation, contact tracing and referral of patients".

With support from WHO and other partners, Egypt now has the capacity to conduct up to 200,000 tests.

WHO will work with national health authorities to enhance the isolation, quarantine and referral mechanisms, and scale up infection prevention and control practices to ensure that patients and health workers are protected.



Key materials:

EMRO News Release



UN launches COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan to #InvestInHumanity 

25 March 2020 

The UN today issued a $2 billion appeal to fight coronavirus in the most vulnerable countries.

Properly funded, it will provide laboratory materials for testing, supplies to protect health workers and medical equipment to treat the sick. It will bring water and sanitation to places facing shortages, and will help humanitarian workers and supplies get to where they are needed most to support the COVID-19 response.



WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus joined UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the plan's virtual launch, together with UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

Writing in the Washington Post, the WHO Director-General and UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs co-authored a piece calling on countries to fund the plan while sustaining support for existing humanitarian and refugee response plans. 



Key materials:

Global Humanitarian Response Plan: UN Coordinated Appeal (April-December 2020) 

OCHA News Story: UN issues $2 billion appeal to combat COVID-19

YouTube recording: Launch of the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan

Washington Post piece: The coronavirus threatens all of humanity. All of humanity must fight back.

UN Secretary General's Remarks



Off-label use of medicines for COVID-19

25 March 2020

No pharmaceutical products have yet been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19. However, a number of medicines have been suggested as potential investigational therapies, many of which are now being or will soon be studied in clinical trials, including the SOLIDARITY trial co-sponsored by WHO and participating countries.

In many countries, doctors are giving COVID-19 patients medicines that have not been approved for this disease. The use of licensed medicines for indications that have not been approved by a national medicines regulatory authority is considered “off-label” use. The prescription of medicines for off-label use by doctors may be subject to national laws and regulations. All health care workers should be aware of and comply with the laws and regulations governing their practice. Further, such prescribing should be done on a case-by-case basis. Unnecessary stockpiling and the creation of shortages of approved medicines that are required to treat other diseases should be avoided.

It can be ethically appropriate to offer individual patients experimental interventions on an emergency basis outside clinical trials, provided that no proven effective treatment exists; it is not possible to initiate clinical studies immediately; the patient or his or her legal representative has given informed consent; and the emergency use of the intervention is monitored, and the results are documented and shared in a timely manner with the wider medical and scientific community.[1]

The decision to offer a patient an unproven or experimental treatment is between the doctor and the patient but must comply with national law. Where it is possible and feasible for the treatment to be given as part of a clinical trial, this should be done unless the patient declines to participate in the trial.

If it is not possible to give the treatment as part of a clinical trial, appropriate records of the use of the medicine must be kept, in compliance with national law, and outcomes for patients should be monitored and recorded.

If early results from an unproven or experimental treatment are promising, the treatment should be studied in the context of a formal clinical trial to establish its safety, efficacy, risks, and benefits.




WHO and FIFA team up on campaign to kick out coronavirus

23 March 2020

WHO and FIFA launched the “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” campaign, led by world-renowned footballers. The campaign promotes five key steps for people to follow to protect their health in line with WHO guidance, focused on hand washing, coughing etiquette, not touching your face, physical distance and staying home if feeling unwell.

“We need teamwork to combat the coronavirus,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “FIFA has teamed up with WHO because health comes first. I call upon the football community worldwide to join us in supporting this campaign to pass the message even further. Some of the greatest players to have played the beautiful game have put their names to the campaign and are united in their desire to pass the message to kick out COVID-19."

Twenty-eight players are involved in the video campaign, which is being published in 13 languages.



Key materials:

Video: Pass the message: Five steps to kicking out coronavirus

News release: Pass the message: Five steps to kicking out coronavirus - with social tiles

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 23 March 2020

YouTube recording of media briefing

Video clips for broadcasters 

WHO Health Alert for coronavirus launches on WhatsApp 

20 March 2020

To increase access to reliable information, WHO worked with WhatsApp and Facebook to launch a new WHO Health Alert messaging service today. The WhatsApp-based service will provide vital information about COVID-19 to millions of people through their mobile phones. The services uses an AI chatbot to provide updated information on the pandemic, including how to protect yourself, questions and answers, and the latest news and press coverage. The Health Alert service is now available in English and will be introduced in other languages next week. This is part of WHO's wider initiative to work with technology companies to get accurate health information into the hands of people that need it at this critical time.



Key materials:

News release 

Link to receive messages from the WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp


Young people "are not invincible" 

20 March 2020 

Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, the Director-General said: 

"Although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared.

Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization.

Today, I have a message for young people: you are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you.

Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.

I’m grateful that so many young people are spreading the word and not the virus."




Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 20 March 2020

YouTube recording of media briefing

Video clips for broadcasters


#AskWHO on disability considerations during COVID-19 

19 March 2020 

The impact of COVID-19 is "felt by different groups in different ways". 

Expert Lindsay Lee emphasises that everyone has a critical role to play to protect people with disability during the COVID-19, in her #AskWHO public Q&A session. 




Key materials:

Periscope recording of the #AskWHO on disability considerations during COVID-19 



UN Secretary-General calls for solidarity, hope and political will

19 March 2020 

The coronavirus pandemic is a crisis unlike any in the UN's 75-year history. 

During his press briefing on COVID-19, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked world leaders to come together and offer an urgent and coordinated global response.


Key materials:

YouTube recording of the press briefing 



WHO Regional Office for Africa holds joint COVID-19 media briefing with World Economic Forum 

19 March 2020 

Speakers included Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa and WHO Country Representatives Dr Lucile Imboua-Niava (Senegal) and Dr Owen Kaluwa (South Africa). 

Many questions remain about how the pandemic will evolve in Africa. Of particular concern is the potential vulnerability of the roughly 26 million people living with HIV, and the 58 million children with malnutrition on the continent. 





Key materials 



WHO launches the COVID-19 Partners Platform 

16 March 2020



Key materials:

COVID-19 Partners Platform



Launch of SOLIDARITY trial 

18 March 2020

WHO and partners are launching an international clinical trial that aims to generate robust data from around the world to find the most effective treatments for COVID-19. The SOLIDARITY trial provides simplified procedures to enable even overloaded hospitals to participate. 



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 18 March 2020

Periscope recording of the media briefing

Video clips for broadcasters



More than 320 000 learners enrol in online COVID-19 courses 

18 March 2020

Real-time training during global emergencies is critical for effective preparedness and response. 

The OpenWHO Massive Online Open Courses for COVID-19 provide learning resources for health professionals, decision-makers and the public. More than 320 000 learners have already enrolled.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, new resources will be added, additional language versions will continue to be rolled out, and existing courses will be updated to best reflect the changing context.

Courses include: 
Operational Planning Guidelines to Support Country Preparedness and Response

Infection Prevention and Control

Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) and basic hygiene measures to protect against infection

Clinical Care Severe Acute Respiratory Infection

Emerging respiratory viruses, including COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response and control



More information: 

Managing epidemics: key facts about major deadly diseases


WHO calls for urgent, aggressive actions to combat COVID-19, as cases soar in South-East Asia Region

17 March 2020

The World Health Organization today called on Member states in South-East Asia Region to urgently scale-up aggressive measures to combat COVID-19, as confirmed cases cross 480, and the disease claims eight lives.

Key Materials

Press release


New guidance on people affected by humanitarian crises 

17 March 2020

To avoid the neglect and stigmatization of individuals in groups such as asylum seekers, internally displaced people and refugees, this interim guidance outlines 'Scaling-up COVID-19 Outbreak in Readiness and Response Operations in Camps and Camp-like Settings'. 

WHO jointly developed the guidance with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 



Key materials: 


#TogetherAtHome online concert series starts 

16 March 2020 

Chris Martin played a mini gig at home to kick off #TogetherAtHome, a virtual no-contact concert series that aims to promote physical distancing and taking action for global health, presented by WHO and Global Citizen. More Solidarity Sessions are planned to promote health, to show support for people who are staying at home to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, and to encourage donations to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.




Key materials:

Instagram video of Coldplay #TogetherAtHome session

COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund



"You cannot fight a fire blindfolded." 

16 March 2020

Countries should test every suspected case of COVID-19.

If people test positive, they should be isolated and the people they have been in close contact with up to 2 days before they developed symptoms should be sought out, and those people should be tested too if they show symptoms of COVID-19. 

WHO also advises that all confirmed cases, even mild cases, should be isolated in health facilities, to prevent transmission and provide adequate care.

But we recognize that many countries have already exceeded their capacity to care for mild cases in dedicated health facilities.

In that situation, countries should prioritize older patients and those with underlying conditions.



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 16 March 2020

Full video of Press Conference - 16 March 2020

Video clips for broadcasters




WHO Mission to Iraq covers detection and response 

15 March 2020

The mission, which comprised experts from the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office and from WHO headquarters in Geneva, held a series of meetings with national health authorities to identify the disease detection dynamics and at-risk populations, in addition to providing guidance on strengthening response and control measures.

The mission also reviewed the Ministry’s overall readiness to deal with a potential increase in case reporting and the priority of establishing an Emergency Operation Centre to speed up action now that the disease has been announced as a global pandemic.




Key materials:

News release  

Video clip from MOH and mission press conference 


Launch of #SafeHands Challenge 

13 March 2020 

WHO launched the #SafeHands Challenge to promote the power of clean hands fo fight the coronavirus.

To support the challenge to encourage people to clean their hands with soap or alcohol-based hand rub, Twitter created a new #HandWashing emoji. 

Heads of State, footballers, singers and more have already taken part, with more people nominated to join the challenge every day. 





Europe becomes epicenter of the pandemic

13 March 2020

Europe now has more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.

More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 13 March 2020

Periscope reading of press briefing

Video for broadcasters 


Updated clinical guidance 

13 March 2020



Key materials 

Interim guidance: Clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection when novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection is suspected



WHO, UN Foundation and partners launch first-of-its-kind COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund

13 March 2020

A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Solidarity Response Fund will raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund, the first-of-its-kind, enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to come together to directly contribute to global response efforts, and has been created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, together with WHO. 



Key Materials:

The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund

Press release

Audio file of press conference - 13 March

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 13 March 2020



Expert mission to Iran concludes

12 March 2020

A five-day expert mission to Iran with experts from WHO, GOARN partners, Robert Koch Institute in Berlin and the Chinese Center for Disease Control has concluded.

“Everybody in the country is engaged in this response. The right and timely public health measures implemented on [an] adequate scale will make a difference,” said Dr Richard Brennan, WHO Regional Emergency Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region and mission team lead.

Looking forward, Dr Brennan said more work needs to be done to protect health workers. The mission also held constructive discussions on ways to advance epidemiological data collection and analysis.



Key materials:

News release


Azerbaijan welcomes WHO mission

12 March 2020 

During its 5-day mission, a team of WHO experts worked with the national response committee on developing a national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19.

The Government of Azerbaijan is contributing to global efforts to address COVID-19, coordinating with neighbouring countries, and has pledged US$ 5 million to WHO’s strategic preparedness and response plan.

Key materials:

News release




WHO characterizes COVID-19 as a pandemic

11 March 2020

Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, the WHO Director-General said: 

"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.

Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.

We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.

And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time."


Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020

Periscope recording of the press conference




WHO issues schools guidance with UNICEF and IFRC

10 March 2020

WHO, UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) outline critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe, with helpful tips for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students themselves. 



Key materials 

News release

Guidance: Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools 



Mental health and COVID-19

10 March 2020

WHO is providing guidance to help people manage fear, stigma and discrimination during COVID-19.

In the #AskWHO film below, expert Aiysha Malik answers public questions about mental health and preventing stress during the outbreak. 




Key materials 

Guidance: Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak

#AskWHO Q&A with Aiysha Malik 


“The rule of the game is: never give up.”

9 March 2020

“We are not at the mercy of this virus,” said the WHO Director-General at the 9 March media briefing.

All countries must aim to stop transmission and prevent the spread of COVID-19, whether they face no cases, sporadic cases, clusters or community transmission.

“Let hope be the antidote to fear.

Let solidarity be the antidote to blame.

Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat"



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 9 March 2020

Periscope recording of the press conference



Interim guidance on critical preparedness, readiness and response actions

8 March 2020

Drawing on existing materials, this guidance describes the preparedness, readiness and response actions for four different transmission scenarios:

1. No cases

2. Sporadic cases: 1 or more cases, imported or locally detected

3. Clusters of cases in time, geographic location and/or common exposure

4. Community transmission: larger outbreaks of local transmission



Key materials


Marking 100 000 cases 

7 March 2020 

Marking this sombre moment, WHO reminded all countries and communities that the spread of this virus can be significantly slowed or even reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities.

Every effort to contain the virus and slow the spread saves lives. These efforts give health systems and all of society much needed time to prepare, and researchers more time to identify effective treatments and develop vaccines. 

Allowing uncontrolled spread should not be a choice of any government, as it will harm not only the citizens of that country but affect other countries as well. 

We must stop, contain, control, delay and reduce the impact of this virus at every opportunity. Every person has the capacity to contribute, to protect themselves, to protect others, whether in the home, the community, the healthcare system, the workplace or the transport system. 



Key materials 





WHO publishes draft R&D blueprint draft for COVID-19

6 March 2020 

"Research—implemented as policy and practice—can save lives and needs to be integrated into the response from the start."

The R&D roadmap for COVID-19 outlines research priorities in 9 key areas. These include the natural history of the virus, epidemiology, diagnostics, clinical management, ethical considerations and social sciences, as well as longer-term goals for therapeutics and vaccines. 



Key materials



Launch of Be Ready campaign 

5 March 2020 

WHO launches a new social media campaign called Be Ready for COVID-19, which urges people to be safe, smart and kind.

'Be Ready' was launched because everyone can prepare for COVID-19, including individuals, governments and businesses. 

We're calling on people to Be Safe by remembering tried & tested public health measures, like regular hand washing & staying at least 1 metre (3 feet) from anyone coughing or sneezing. These ordinary measures are extraordinarily effective at fighting COVID-19.

We're asking people to Be Smart about COVID-19 by rejecting rumours & taking care to only share information from trusted sources. Everyone should keep informed about what is happening in their area and follow the recommendations of local authorities. 

We're reminding people to Be Kind through addressing stigma and looking out for one another - especially the most vulnerable and those in isolation. Compassion can combat #COVID19.

Below is a tweet from footballer Paul Pogba getting involved with the campaign.



Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 5 March 2020



“The whole government should be involved”

5 March 2020

Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, the Director-General emphasized that the COVID-19 epidemic “can be pushed back, but only with a collective coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government.” 




“This is unprecedented"

4 March 2020

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, outlines the wealth of knowledge generated about this new disease in just eight weeks. 




Shortage of personal protective equipment endangering health workers worldwide

3 Mar 2020

WHO has shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 47 countries, but the global supply is rapidly depleting.

Shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons.

To meet rising global demand, WHO estimates that industry must increase manufacturing by 40 per cent.


“There’s no choice but to act now” 

2 March 2020

Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, the Director-General emphasized that the virus is capable of community transmission but can be contained with the right measures. 

Key materials:


Mission of WHO experts arrive in Iran

2 March 2020 

Landing in Tehran, the experts aim to identify transmission dynamics and at-risk populations, as well as provide guidance on strengthening and scaling up the response and readiness efforts. 

The mission arrived along with a shipment containing medical supplies and protective equipment to support over 15,000 health care workers and enough laboratory kits to test and diagnose nearly 100,000 people. 

The mission will build on the COVID-19 preparedness and response work already underway by WHO's country office in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Key materials:

EMRO news release


UN releases US$15 million for COVID-19 response 

1 March 2020

UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock released US$15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to WHO and UNICEF to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.

This grant will help countries with fragile health systems boost their detection and response operations. It will fund essential activities including monitoring the spread of the virus, investigating cases, and the operation of national laboratories.

Key materials:

WHO-OCHA-UNICEF news release


What every individual can do to protect themselves and others 

28 February 2020

In a daily COVID-19 press briefing the WHO Director-General said that more than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials. But we don’t need to wait for vaccines and therapeutics. There are things every individual can do to protect themselves and others today.

Key materials

What every country should be asking itself 

27 February 2020

Discussing preparedness for COVID-19, the WHO Director-General listed questions every health minister should be able to answer. Here are a selection: 

  • Are we ready for the first case? 
  • Do we have enough medical oxygen, ventilators and other vital equipment?
  • How will we know if there are cases in other areas of the country?
  • Do our health workers have the training and equipment they need to stay safe?
  • Do we have the right measures at airports and border crossings to test people who are sick?
  • Do our labs have the right chemicals that allow them to test samples?
  • Are we ready to treat patients with severe or critical disease?
  • Do our hospitals and clinics have the right procedures to prevent and control infections?
  • Do our people have the right information? Do they know what the disease looks like?

Key materials:


Get your workplace ready for COVID-19 

26 February 2020

WHO has issued new COVID-19 guidance for businesses and employers, which outlines simple ways to prevent the spread of the virus, things to consider when employees travel and how to get your business ready in case COVID-19 arrives in your community. 

Key materials:

Workplace guidance


#AskWHO about COVID-19 

26 February 2020

Watch Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on the new coronavirus, answer questions from the public about COVID-19. She begins by explaining how the virus spreads and how to protect yourself from COVID-19. Dr Van Kerkhove was a member of the recent joint mission of experts to China to learn more about the outbreak.

Key materials:

WHO advice on how to protect yourself


Do your part to stop stigma and combat COVID-19

25 February 2020

The WHO Director-General has repeatedly called for "solidarity, not stigma" to address COVID-19. 

WHO has worked with UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on a guide to preventing and addressing the social stigma associated with the disease. 

It's vital to fight stigma because it can drive people to hide the illness, not seek health care immediately and discourage them from adopting healthy behaviours. 

This guide includes some tips and messages, as well as dos and don'ts on language when talking about COVID-19. 

Key materials:

Guide to preventing and addressing social stigma


WHO-China joint mission shares findings and recommendations

25 February 2020

The team of 25 international and Chinese experts travelled to several different provinces, with a small group going to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Among the team's findings was that the epidemic peaked and plateaued between the 23rd of January and the 2nd of February, and has been declining steadily since then. The team also estimates that the measures taken in China have averted a significant number of cases.

In a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday 25 February, Dr Bruce Aylward, the mission's lead, reported back on what China has done, its impact and implications. 

Key materials:


WHO-led team of experts travel to Italy

24 February 2020

A team of experts from WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will focus on: understanding how events developed, learning from the Italian experience and supporting control and prevention efforts by the authorities.

To limit further human to human transmission, WHO experts will provide support in the areas of clinical management, infection prevention and control, surveillance and risk communication.

Key materials:

WHO Regional Office for Europe news release


UN Secretary-General visits WHO

24 February 2020

UN Secretary-General António Guterres met with the WHO Director-General and other WHO leaders, receiving a briefing on COVID-19, Ebola and polio. He expressed great admiration for health workers, including in China, who are working tirelessly to save lives. The UN Secretary-General also stressed that there is no space for stigma and discrimination and said we must be guided by science and human rights-based interventions.


WHO leaders address AU and Africa CDC Emergency Meeting

22 February 2020

WHO’s Director-General and Regional Director for Africa addressed an emergency meeting of ministers of health to agree on a continental strategy for Africa to strengthen preparedness and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.


11 000 African health care workers have been trained on COVID-19

22 February 2020

During the past month about 11 000 African health workers have been trained using WHO’s online courses on COVID-19, which are available free of charge in English, French & other languages.


Special envoys on COVID-19 selected

21 February 2020

The WHO Director-General appointed six special envoys on COVID-19, to provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in different parts of the world.

The six envoys are:

  • Professor Dr Maha El Rabbat, former Minister of Health of Egypt;
  • Dr David Nabarro, former special adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change;
  • Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention;
  • Dr Mirta Roses, former Director of the WHO Region of the Americas;
  • Dr Shin Young-soo, former Regional Director of the WHO Region of the Western Pacific;
  • Professor Samba Sow, Director-General of the Center for Vaccine Development in Mali.

Key materials:

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the 21 February 2020 media briefing


WHO Director-General warns that the window of opportunity is “narrowing”

21 February 2020

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasised that the window of opportunity to contain the outbreak is “narrowing” and that the international community needs to act quickly, including through financing.


WHO and countries are engaged in massive preparedness activities

18 February 2020

WHO has shipped supplies of personal protective equipment to 21 countries.

By the end of this week, 40 countries in Africa and 29 in the Americas are due to have the ability to detect COVID-19.

Key materials:


WHO issues guidance on mass gathering and taking care of ill travellers

17 February 2020

Based on lessons from H1N1 and Ebola, WHO has outlined planning considerations for organizers of mass gatherings, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. It has also issued advice on how to detect and take care of ill travellers, who are suspected COVID-19 cases.

Interim guidance: 


WHO Director-General calls for solidarity at Munich Security Conference

15 February 2020


"We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma. The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other. We must stop stigma and hate."

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the international community to use the window of opportunity to prepare for COVID-19 at the Munich Security Conference, a leading global forum on preeminent crises and future security challenges. 


Key materials: 


UN activates WHO-led Crisis Management Team

12 February 2020

The Crisis Management Team (CMT) mechanism brings together WHO, OCHA, IMO, UNICEF, ICAO, WFP, FAO, the World Bank and several UN Secretariat departments.

The CMT will be managed by the Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Mike Ryan. It will help WHO focus on the health response while the other agencies will bring their expertise to bear on the wider social, economic and developmental implications of the outbreak.

Key materials:

Situation report - 23


Research and innovation forum sets priorities for COVID-19 research

12 February 2020 

More than 400 experts and funders met at WHO’s Geneva HQ to accelerate research to stop the COVID-19 outbreak. Featuring updates from the frontlines of the response in China, the meeting addressed issues such as: developing easy-to-apply diagnostics, accelerating existing vaccine candidates and preventing infection.

Key materials: 


Novel coronavirus disease named COVID-19

11 February 2020

Guidelines mandated that the name of the disease could not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people. It also needed to relate to the disease and be pronounceable. This choice will help guard against the use of other names that might be inaccurate or stigmatizing.


Global community asks for US$675 million to help protect vulnerable countries from outbreak

5 February 2020

With the 2019-nCoV outbreak set to test the resilience of countries, the US$675 million Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) aims to protect states with weaker health systems.

Covering areas ranging from international coordination to country readiness to research and innovation, the SPRP aims to limit transmission, provide early care, communicate key information and minimize social and economic impacts.

Key materials:


Public Health Emergency of International Concern declared

30 January 2020

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, following a second meeting of the Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations.

Acknowledging that cases have been reported in five WHO regions in one month, the Committee noted that early detection, isolating and treating cases, contact tracing and social distancing measures – in line with the level of risk – can all work to interrupt virus spread. 


Key materials: 


WHO and China leaders meet in Beijing to discuss coronavirus outbreak

28 January 2020

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing about the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Tedros was joined by WHO Regional Director Dr Takeshi Kasai and Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme Dr Mike Ryan, and also met State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and Minister of Health Ma Xiaowei.

The discussions focused on continued collaboration on containment measures in Wuhan, public health measures in other cities and provinces, conducting further studies on the severity and transmissibility of the virus, continuing to share data, and for China to share biological material with WHO. These measures will advance scientific understanding of the virus and contribute to the development of medical countermeasures such as vaccines and treatments.

The two sides agreed that WHO would send international experts to visit China as soon as possible to work with Chinese counterparts on increasing understanding of the outbreak to guide global response efforts.

Key materials:

News release


Launch of free online introductory course on the novel coronavirus

25 January 2020

Covering topics such as why the novel coronavirus is a global threat to human health and how to effectively engage communities in the response, this free online course gives an introduction to the novel coronavirus. It is available for free and online in English, French, Spanish and Chinese.

WHO_nCoV_Introductory Video from openWHO on Vimeo

Key materials:

OpenWHO course: Emerging respiratory viruses, including nCoV: methods for detection, prevention, response and control


First meeting of Emergency Committee regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak

23 January 2020

On 22-23 February, the WHO Director General convened the Emergency Committee to consider the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China, with cases also reported in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.

Several Committee members considered it still too early to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), given its restrictive and binary nature. Among other recommendations, the Committee advised that it be recalled in approximately 10 days.

Key materials:

Statement on the first meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee


WHO makes field visit to Wuhan, China

21 January 2020

The delegation observed and discussed active surveillance processes, temperature screening at Wuhan Tianhe airport, laboratory facilities, infection prevention and control measures at Zhongnan hospital and its associated fever clinics, and the deployment of a test kit to detect the virus.

The delegation also discussed public communication efforts and China's plan to expand the case definition for the novel coronavirus, which will build a clearer picture of the spectrum of severity of the virus.

At the end of the visit, the Chinese Government released the primers and probes used in the test kit for the novel coronavirus to help other countries detect it. Chinese experts also shared a range of protocols that will be used in developing international guidelines, including case definitions, clinical management protocols and infection control.

Key materials:



First case of novel coronavirus outside of China confirmed

13 January 2020

Officials confirmed a case of the novel coronavirus in Thailand. It was not unexpected that cases of the novel coronavirus would emerge outside of China and reinforces why WHO calls for active monitoring and preparedness in other countries.

Key materials:

News release


China makes genome sequencing of novel coronavirus publicly available

11 - 12 January 2020

China shares the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus, which will be very important for other countries as they develop specific diagnostic kits.

Key materials:

Disease outbreak news item


WHO issues its first guidance on the novel coronavirus

10 January 2020

Developed with reference to other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, WHO issued a tool for countries to check their ability to detect and respond to a novel coronavirus.

This information is to help with identifying main gaps, assessing risks and planning for additional investigations, response and control actions.

Key materials:

National capacities review tool


WHO reports on pneumonia of unknown cause in China

5 January 2020

WHO published its risk assessment and advice and reported on the status of patients and the public health response by national authorities to the cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan. 

Key materials:

Disease outbreak news item


WHO responding to a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan

4 January 2020

WHO announced it would work across its 3 levels – country office, regional office and HQ – to track the situation and share details as they emerged. 


Pneumonia of unknown cause reported to WHO China Office

31 December 2019

At the close of 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of a pneumonia of unknown cause, detected in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, China. According to the authorities, some patients were operating dealers or vendors in the Huanan Seafood market.

Staying in close contact with national authorities, WHO began monitoring the situation and requested further information on the laboratory tests performed and the different diagnoses considered.

Key materials:

Disease outbreak news item
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