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Covid-19: Europe, North America should learn from Asia, says WHO

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It should follow example of strict quarantine measures and keep it up

GENEVA : Europe and North America should follow the example of Asian states by persevering with anti-Covid measures and quarantining anyone who comes into contact with infected people, a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert said on Monday.

WHO's Europe region, which includes Russia, has recorded up to 8,500 deaths in the past week - and half the countries have seen a 50 per cent rise in cases, Dr Mike Ryan, the body's top emergency expert, told a news conference.

Over recent months, the authorities in Australia, China, Japan and South Korea had reduced the spread by detecting cases, isolating them and quarantining contacts, he said.

Their populations had shown "higher levels of trust" in their governments who had kept up measures longer.

"In other words, they ran through the finishing line and beyond and they kept running, because they knew the race wasn't over, that finishing line was false.

"Too many countries have put an imaginary finishing line and when they cross, this may have decelerated some of their activities," Dr Ryan said.

"The countries in Asia, South Asia, the Western Pacific that have been successful to my mind have really continued to follow through on those key activities," he added.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the authorities to persevere in the fight against the virus that has infected 40 million and killed more than 1 million, according to the latest Reuters tally.

"I know there is fatigue, but the virus has shown that when we let our guard down, it can surge back at breakneck speed and threaten hospitals and health systems," Dr Tedros said.

WHO says 42 potential vaccines are now being tested on humans, of which 10 have reached the third and final stage.

A further 156 are being worked on in laboratories with a view to human testing.

Typically, only around one in 10 candidate drugs make it through the trials.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that while one or two trials may report data by the year end, most would start to do so early next year.

High-risk groups across all countries would get the first doses, probably in mid-2021, she said.- REUTERS, AFP