WHO COVID-19 situation reports, July

31 July, 2020

Note: official reports inherently have a time lag. The situation is rapidly evolving, and the number of cases and countries/territories with exported cases may have already increased since these reports were issued. See the International SOS Latest News for the latest information. Only selected reports are highlighted here; all are available in their entirety at World Health Organization COVID-19 Situation Reports website.

31 July: WHO Director-General Dr Tedros highlighted the high rates of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, drawing attention to a recently published WHO policy brief.  WHO Regional Director for Europe emphasized the need to "be on the alert to expand capacity to deal with a resurgence of COVID-19 and, at the same time, to maintain essential health services." WHO has published interim guidance on the provision of safe water, sanitation and waste management and hygienic conditions which is essential for preventing disease and for protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks. The Subject in Focus highlights new guidance on public health considerations while resuming international travel, covered in our separate News item

30 July: WHO has established a COVID-19 HelpDesk to assist countries with setting up treatment facilities – this is further detailed in today’s Subject in Focus. Ongoing access to health services are highlighted, including for indigenous populations in the Amazon, a Hepatitis program in the Philippines and routine childhood vaccinations in Somalia.

29 July: The European WHO regional office is urging Turkmenistan, which has not reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19 yet, to activate critical measures to prepare for an outbreak. To honor world hepatitis day, WHO highlighted the fact that the pandemic is threatening progress made towards eliminating hepatitis B. They call for united and fast-tracked action to stop mother-to-child hepatitis transmission. Today’s Subject in Focus highlights recently published WHO guidance on Safe Eid al Adha practices in the context of COVID-19 as mentioned in the story dated 26 July below.

28 July: The subject in focus in report #190 is Infodemic Management. It details how the WHO regional offices are developing “a high volume of consistent yet adaptable messages, materials and strategies” during the pandemic. This helps countries to avoid duplication of work, ensuring a clear message, identifying knowledge gaps and tackling myths and misinformation.

Highlights today address ongoing services for other health issues: Ethiopia conducting a measles vaccination campaign, a WHO interim guidance on addressing neglected tropical diseases during the pandemic and the America’s region and Caribbean Development Bank launching the ‘Stronger Together’ mental health campaign.

27 July: This week will be the six-month mark since WHO declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Nearly 16 million cases have occurred globally, and the pandemic is accelerating. The number of cases has approximately doubled in the past six weeks. In a press briefing on the topic, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros reiterated the basic measures that are needed to suppress transmission and save lives: to find, isolate, test and care for cases; and trace and quarantine their contacts.“Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they’re not, cases go up”.

The Subject in Focus today highlights the Second Global Research and Innovation Forum which was hosted virtually by WHO in early July.

26 July: WHO has published interim guidance on safe Eid al Adha practices in the context of COVID-19 which outlines public health advice for social gatherings and religious practices. In Lao, an engagement event between 100 Chief Monks, who lead temples in Vientiane Capital temples, and health officials took place on 23-24 July. The focus of the meeting was to “discuss community level action to prevent COVID-19 and combat the fear, stigma and discrimination outbreaks can bring”. The WHO has prepared a draft landscape document of COVID-19 candidate vaccines. The WHO continues to work closely with health ministries across Africa to reduce healthcare worker infections, including providing training in infection prevention and control, as well as providing guidelines on best care practices and the most up-to-date treatment regimes.

25 July: The WHO have stressed upon disproportionate effects of the pandemic on the older age group, especially those living in long-term care facilities. A policy brief has been published on preventing and managing COVID-19 across long-term care services. WHO also released a set of practical steps for implementing the prescriptions of the WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID-19. These prescriptions aim to create a balance between safeguarding health while keeping up with economic recovery. WHO also highlighted its work in strengthening the fragile health system of Timor-Leste. A health worker in Ghana and a prison nurse in the United Kingdom have shared the challenges in managing COVID-19.

24 July: The top highlight of Situation Report 186 quotes Dr Tedros in yesterday’s media briefing. In the media briefing Dr Tedros stated “we will not be going back to the ‘old normal’…Part of adjusting to the ‘new normal’ is finding ways to live our lives safely.” The second highlight discusses guidance provided by the WHO to help countries to periodically review their COVID-19 response. The goal of the periodic review is to prevent missing critical opportunities. The situation report also highlights the work WHO is doing in Burkina Faso to address fear and stigma related to COVID-19. The final highlight focuses on the situation in Somalia, noting that COVID-19 is the most immediate crisis in the country, but that there are several other crises happening now too. The WHO continues to help address the polio crisis in Somalia with an ongoing programme.

23 July: More than 15 million cases have been confirmed worldwide, including over 619,000 deaths. While the Americas region remains hardest hit, a growing number of infections in South-Asia, predominantly in India, is noted.

There are two ‘subject in focus’ topics in today’s update. The first is on a working group looking at the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence. One identified mutation, called “D614G”, was first observed in several countries in February 2020. It is now widely present across the globe and it has been suggested this mutation might make the virus transmit more easily. Research into this mutation and others continues.

The second topic is a progress update on the COVID-19 Supply Chain System. The WHO along with partner organisations are working to ensure equitable access and distribution of personal protective equipment, diagnostics and equipment, particularly for low- and middle-income countries.

22 July: Highlights from today’s report include discussion of a statement from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) a division of WHO. The statement from the PAHO Director notes that nearly a third of people “are at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying health conditions.” Another highlight of today’s report shares the story of a physician in Kazakhstan. Dr Karakhioshiyeva is an obstetrician-gynaecologist and worked in Municipal Maternity Hospital No.1, in Almaty, when it became a quarantine centre for pregnant women. The final highlight of today’s report discusses changes needed to hospital structures. There is no Subject in Focus in today’s report.

21 July: The importance of contact tracing is the top highlight of today’s report. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros emphasized this in his regular media briefing, stating “No country can get control of its epidemic if it doesn’t know where the virus is.” The Westfleur Hospital in Western Cape, South Africa have innovated a solution to boost testing for COVID-19. Staff have remodelled security booths into testing centers to increase testing availability. Access to psychosocial health services for refugees from Syria has been improved. A joint effort between the Turkish Ministry of Health and the WHO Country Office in Turkey are using online services to improve access to services disrupted by the pandemic. The final highlight of today’s report notes that essential polio immunization are restarting in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region. Pakistan is the first country to resume the vaccination campaign. The campaigns will be performed under strict prevention measures against COVID-19.

The Subject in Focus today highlights the first global WHO infodemiology conference. A public webinar in late June generated more than 11,000 online connections. A final webinar was held today. Among the conference’s goals were to understand how to manage an infodemic, and identify current examples.

20 July: Highlights from today’s report include emphasis on “integrating psychosocial support and mental health services as part of the COVID-19 response”, noting that more than one million people in the Eastern Mediterranean Region have recovered, and reminding the public of WHO’s role during health emergencies and the key documents they have published. There are two Subjects in Focus today. The first is in regards to the health disparities encountered by indigenous peoples in the Americas region. A joint statement from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) urges countries to bolster their healthcare services in the Amazon. A guidance document: Considerations on Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Descendants, and Other Ethnic Groups during the COVID-19 Pandemic is also available. The second topic is an update on WHO partner coordination, providing details of shipments delivered, and other logistical measures being taken to combat the pandemic.

19 July: Over 166,00 new cases were confirmed over the last 24 hours, pushing the global total beyond 14 million. The WHO is working with the Nigerian Government to demystify COVID-19. A global study called ‘Apart Together’ has been launched to “assess the public health and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and migrants.”

18 July: "WHO has published an interim checklist for local authorities on Practical actions in cities to strengthen preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The checklist accompanies the interim guidance on Strengthening preparedness for COVID-19 in cities and urban settings." WHO's Regional Office for Eurpoe along with the International Labour Organizatin and UNICEF to issue a policy paper on how to strengthen protection against, and address, social and economic shocks such as those caused by the pandemic.

17 July: The WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Takeshi Kasai, praised New Zealand’s success in controlling COVID-19. A coalition was announced to fight COVID-19 in indigenous areas of the Amazon. WHO states that 192 countries, territories and areas have implemented health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic, which they summarize in the "Subject in Focus." These include denial of entry of passengers, flight suspensions, visa restrictions, border closures and quarantine measures.

16 July: Today’s report highlights vaccines. Over 75 countries have joined the COVAX Facility which has the goal of ensuring rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available. WHO and UNICEF warn of declining rates of routine vaccinations during the pandemic and WHO reflects on vaccine success stories which give hope for the future.

The ‘Subject in Focus’ details the Unity Studies. These are six study protocols designed to assist countries with gathering information about the COVID-19 virus and the disease it causes, in a consistent way across different countries and settings. The results will be able to be shared and compared globally, to inform public health recommendations to limit further spread.

15 July: WHO is supporting ongoing vaccination efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing knowledge and assistance to immunization programmes worldwide. WHO and key international partners have upgraded Somalia's diagnostic capacity, and continues to provide support. Director of the WHO Regional Office for the Americas discusses how countries in the Americas are pooling their efforts to ensure access to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. WHO’s COVAX facility will negotiate access with the producers of all COVID-19 candidate vaccines that show promising results. The "Subject in Focus" is an update on the COVID-19 Supply Chain System.

14 July: COVID-19 cases have reached 12,964,809 worldwide, with over 570,000 deaths. The subject in focus is ‘infodemic management’, with a webinar series launched to assist countries with effective risk communication while easing restrictions. Further highlights include: tackling stigma and fear in South Sudan and the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, with the COVID-19 pandemic predicted to push 130 million more people into chronic hunger.

13 July: Updated risk assessment tools for mass gatherings, religious gatherings and sports events have been released. The Q&A page has been updated to include information on schools and COVID-19.

12 July: A new daily record has been set for cases reported in 24 hours - an increase of 230,370 cases, with 60% of cases reported in the United States, Brazil and India. The WHO African regional office calls for equitable access to vaccines for COVID-19 once they are developed. Two documents have been published; an Emergency Global Supply Chain System (COVID-19) catalogue and a Global animal laboratories capacity map which could support vaccine development and therapeutic evaluation.

11 July: Report #173 details an additional 219,000 cases and 5,200 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours. The vast majority of these are in the region of the Americas, with cases continuing to surge in the United States and Brazil which alone account for 46% of the new cases. Highlights include: a new initiative launched by the WHO for Quitting Tobacco, guidance for maintaining a safe and adequate blood supply during the pandemic and the announcement of an independent evaluation of the COVID-19 response.

10 July: WHO Secretary General Dr Tedros spoke in yesterday’s webinar highlighting the critical role civil society has played and needs to play in the pandemic response. He noted that a recent survey has shown low engagement of civil society in many locations, and that an effective response needs greater participation. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional Director for Africa noted the increase in cases over the continent is not uniformly distributed, but emphasized that “if countries continue to strengthen key public health measures such as testing, tracing contacts and isolating cases, we can slow down the spread of the virus to a manageable level.” Countries are also urged to “stand firm and stay focused on what we know works to hold the virus at bay; step in swiftly at the first sign of local surges; and sign up to be part of a new culture of health,” said Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe during a press conference this week. The Subject in Focus for Situation Report 172 provides key points of the WHO’s updated brief on modes of transmission, as well as a link to the updated Q&A page.

9 July: WHO announced a partnership with both Facebook and Praekelt.org. The joint effort aims to provide mobile-friendly access to the WHO’s COVID-19 information. The WHO mission to Turkmenistan arrived in Ashgabat to perform a risk assessment and work towards a stronger response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Regional office for the Americas continues to provide webinars related to COVID-19, and the focus of tomorrow’s webinar is “Caring for the Carers: Managing your Mental Health While Caring for Others.” OpenWHO.org, the online learning platform recently launched WHO reports more than 3.7 million enrollments. WHO has published 13 COVID-19 specific topics. The WHO Academy is also offering a survey between 8 and 29 July. The Subject in Focus today is WHO COVID-19 support to Africa, discussing the rising case numbers and recommendations for a robust response throughout the continent.

8 July: WHO is sending a team of experts to China. The experts will coordinate with Chinese counterparts to pave the way for determining the source of SARS-CoV-2. Specifically, they will look to map out plans to find the zoonotic source. This is an important step in future management of COVID-19. A 9.5 ton delivery of essential medical supplies was made to Afghanistan. The equipment includes PCR machines for testing, personal protective equipment, oxygen concentrators, and other supplies. Polio vaccination has resumed in Burkina Faso, while taking into account current COVID-19 prevention measures. Dr Carissa F. Etienne the Director of the WHO Regional Office of the Americas has "called for strong coordination across countries, evidence to guide leaders' actions and for people to protect themselves and others."

7 July: WHO has published guidance to help countries develop more robust strategies for health emergency preparedness. A survey conducted by WHO found that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a negative impact on medication for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Seventy-three countries are at risk of going out of stock on antiretroviral medication. The WHO Regional Office for America also emphasizes the need to keep fighting malaria during the pandemic. The Subject in Focus of this report is "Developing trans-disciplinary science: infodemiology, the science behind infodemic management." An infodemic is an over-abundance of information. Managing the information related to the COVID-19 pandemic is a crucial component of pandemic response. The meeting in April with EPI-WIN (WHO Information Network for Epidemics) produced 50 action points. Another webinar is scheduled for later this month, people can register here.

6 July: WHO announced today a webinar will be held tomorrow on personal protective equipment and chemicals. The webinar will provide recommendations on the safe use of chemicals to stop the spread of COVID-19. Also highlighted is the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Today’s Subject In Focus provides an update from the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) on what it is doing to assist with the pandemic response.

5 July: WHO has accepted the recommendation from the Solidarity Trial’s International Steering Committee to discontinue the trial’s hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir treatment arms for COVID-19 (See news item). WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Takeshi Kasai spoke of a ‘new normal’, one that improves both health and livelihoods during a virtual press conference with the World Economic Forum on COVID-19. The Regional Office for the Americas/PAHO has launched a new site for donations to its COVID-19 Response Fund and the Regional Office for Europe is launching a new podcast service 'Health in Europe'.

4 July: WHO is providing support to Iraq, where they are experiencing a shortage of oxygen supplies, 300 oxygen concentrators from WHO's warehouses in the United Arab Emirates have been dispatched. WHO urges strong safety measures as African countries begin to reopen borders and air spaces, it is crucial that governments take effective measures to mitigate the risk of a surge in infections. The UN Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres in his remarks to the Security Council on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting peace and security around the world. He stated that “Collective security and our shared well-being are under assault on many fronts led by a relentless disease and abetted by global fragilities.”

3 July: An online course released on controlling the spread of COVID-19 at ground crossings is availalable. "The objectives of the course are to reduce the spread of COVID-19 resulting from travel, transportation, and trade on and around ground crossings".

2 July: Situation Report 164 highlights include:

  • Dr Tedros' comments during the media briefing on 1 July
  • Turkey's helpline in partnership with WHO
  • Discussion regarding the importance of maintaining maternal and child health care
  • WHO Regional Director for the Americas’ comments on relaxing public health measures
  • WHO representative Dr Magtymova’s personal experience in Syria

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros spoke yesterday in the media briefing, emphasizing the need to take a comprehensive approach to the pandemic. “Not testing alone. Not physical distancing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not masks alone. Do it all.” Turkey’s helpline, which reaches all 81 provinces in the country, has seen more than 80,000 consultations since March. The helpline provides mental health support to people dealing with the pandemic. Also highlighted is the need to refrain from de-prioritizing maternal and child health. Within the WHO European region, “…examples from Italy, Germany and Israel show that swift recalibration of healthcare has helped maintain essential services, thereby protecting the well-being of pregnant women and their babies.” Dr Carissa F. Etienne, the WHO Regional Director for the Americas commented that “countries planning to relax public health measures must take a phased approach based on local conditions and be prepared to impose preventive measures again if the epidemiological situation changes.” Dr Akjemal Magtymova has shared her experience, both professional and personal, with regards to her recent assumption of her position in Syria. She discussed the restrictions of the pandemic, but also the hurdles of responding to this pandemic while in a conflict area.

The Subject in Focus provides newly updated guidance on infection prevention and control. This is the third edition of guidance documents, and combines interim recommendations with advice and considerations from subject matter experts. From the Situation Report, the main differences and additions are:

  • Expansion of all sub-sections to include clarifications and further recommendations;
  • Addition of new guidance and practical advice for the management of visitors especially in areas with COVID-19 community transmission;
  • Inclusion of a sub-section on ventilation in the section “Environmental and engineering controls”;
  • New guidance on IPC considerations for surgical procedures for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, as well as those patients whose COVID-19 status is unknown;
  • Updated considerations for dead body management in healthcare facilities; and
  • Practical advice and tools to assess healthcare facility IPC readiness and to monitor and evaluate IPC measures for COVID-19.

1 July: The risks of an "infodemic" (too much information, some of which can be misleading or harmful) were examined at an Infodemiology conference on 29 June. The scientific brief on smoking and COVID-19 has been updated, examining available evidence on the risk of smokers being infected by the virus, severity of disease, and deaths among hospitalized COVID-19 patients who smoke. Smoking appears associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The "Subject in Focus" updates WHO’s efforts to bolster supply chain systems.

View past news for WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports.


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