WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports May

31 May, 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 May: On World No Tobacco Day, WHO reminds that so far, the available evidence shows that smoking is "associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients". Several countries have not reported any cases for more than 14 days, including Tanzania, Eritrea, Seychelles, Liechtenstein, Timor-Leste, Brunei, Laos, Fiji, French Polynesia, and Papua New Guinea.

30 May: The ‘Subject in Focus’ is a framework for decision-making: implementation of mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19. The report also contains guidance documents for; key planning recommendations for mass gatherings, preventing and managing the COVID-19 pandemic across long-term care services. WHO has also emphasised the importance of mental health and the pandemic.

29 May: The Subject in Focus is controlling the spread of COVID-19 at ground crossings, which can often be informal passages with no physical structure or notable border. A surveillance protocol for SARS-CoV-2 infection among health workers was released to help understand the exposure risks of health workers infected with COVID-19. WHO is using the experience of health professionals, police staff and prisoners in Italy to inform guidance on preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention. Community pharmacists are key players in the COVID-19 response. The WHO Regional Office for Europe has published technical guidelines on practical ways in which health systems can better respond to COVID-19.

28 May: The 'Subject in Focus' in report #129 is clinical case management. WHO have published an interim Clinical Management of COVID-19 guidance for frontline health staff caring for COVID-19 patients. A significant change to the guidelines is that patients can be discharged from “transmission-based precautions (including isolation)” ten days after symptoms began, plus three further days without symptoms. This follows on from several reports that a positive PCR test weeks after recovery, or even after another negative PCR test, is not likely to be an infectious form of the virus. In addition, an interim guidance for Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing and a statement from the America’s Region director about including chronic disease care as part of the COVID-19 response have been published.

27 May: WHO Situation Report #128 notes that a protocol providing guidance on assessing the risk factors of COVID-19 for healthcare workers has been published. Also published, a scientific brief discussing the association between smoking and risk for infection. The evidence currently shows that smoking is associated with increased severity and death. The Subject in Focus details "how WHO is listening to social media to get ahead of the infodemic."

26 May: Updates in the latest Situation Report highlights that the Solidarity Trial has "over 400 hospitals in 35 countries actively recruiting patients and nearly 3500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries." Furthermore, with the unprecedented global demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies in response to COVID-19, there is a distinct shortage. WHO is working closely together with other UN agencies, donor partner and NGOs "to negotiate with manufacturers to help secure life-saving supplies to assist the most vulnerable countries."

25 May: International endeavors continue, with the WHO Regional Office for Africa training for Tanzanian health workers to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients. The United Kingdom will contribute $3.8m for the COVID-19 response in the Caribbean. WHO has partnered with Vital Strategies and other global partners to launch a new technical package for rapid mortality surveillance and epidemic response to support national governments with surveillance and response planning.

24 May: The WHO, UNICEF and GAVI have warned that at least 80 million children under one at risk of diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio as COVID-19 disrupts routine vaccination efforts. They have called for joint efforts to safely deliver routine immunization and proceed with vaccination campaigns against deadly vaccine-preventable diseases.

23 May: WHO has published or updated the following documents: a COVID-19 Monitoring and Evaluation Framework; Operational Planning Guidelines to Support Country Preparedness and Response; interim guidance on Framework for decision-making - implementation of mass vaccination campaigns in the context of COVID-19; an interim guidance on Controlling the spread of COVID-19 at ground crossings. The situational update provides links for technical guidance and other resources; recommendations and advice for the public; case definitions and COVID-19 case data tables.

22 May: WHO and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) signed an agreement to improve health services for refugees, displaced and stateless people, with a key aim in protecting 70 million displaced people due to COVID-19. A new COVID-19 rapid response guide for young people aged 8–17 years old has been launched to explain the science and social science of COVID-19 and empower youth to help keep themselves and their communities safer. The "Subject in Focus" is new guidance on laboratory biosafety related to the testing of clinical specimens and guidance on the repatriation of COVID-19 human remains by air.

21 May: As the 73rd World Health Assembly drew to a close on 19 May, a landmark resolution was adopted by the to unite the world in the fight against COVID-19. Today is the 'World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development' and the European WHO office calls for countries to include refugees, migrants and other vulnerable populations in their public health efforts against the pandemic.

20 May: Highlighting that the pandemic can be detrimental to social and economic well being as well as physical health, the Americas regional director discussed the need to protect vulnerable groups including women, underprivileged populations, indigenous populations and migrants. WHO published a case report form for clinicians to use to report "suspected cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) in children and adolescents temporally related to COVID-19." The "Subject in Focus" involves using data from social science to develop and implement policies that are tailored to local needs and thus more likely to be effective.

19 May: The World Health Assembly was held on 18 May, the opening remarks of the WHO's Director-General can be found here. WHO has published a document on Overview of Public Health and Social Measures in the context of COVID-19. The document provides "an overview of public health and social measures, and to propose strategies to limit any possible harm resulting from these interventions". The WHO regional office for Europe published a study on health behaviours of 11–15-year-olds in Europe and the office for the Western Pacific reported a timeline of COVID-19 in the region.

18 May: An agreement between WHO and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pledges to work together to promote healthy lifestyles through sport and physical activity. WHO repeats their warning that unproven treatments should not be recommended or administered to patients with COVID-19. The "Subject in Focus" discusses the WHO Solidarity Trial is helping find an effective treatment. More than 60 countries are actively involved in this initiative. and 18 of them have already received the medications being tested in the trial. Nearly 3,000 patients have been enrolled. At least 10 more countries will start the trial by the end of the month.

17 May: A community of youth influencers named the Global Shapers Community is working with the WHO Regional Office for Europe to ensure that tailored health advice reaches communities, families and individuals in countries across the European Region.

16 May: Today's update points to a new guideline Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19 aimed at healthcare and public health professionals. Their position on spraying of disinfectants states "Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces, such as streets or marketplaces, is also not recommended to kill the COVID-19 virus or other pathogens because disinfectant is inactivated by dirt and debris and it is not feasible to manually" AND that "Spraying individuals with disinfectants (such as in a tunnel, cabinet, or chamber) is not recommended under any circumstances. This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact." The WHO has published a Scientific Brief Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in childrenand adolescents with COVID-19 - the condition has been given the provisional name "Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome Temporally associated with SARS-COV-2 (PIMS‑TS)" (Lancet 13 May)

15 May: A UN policy brief warns that substantial investment is needed to avert a mental health crisis. Populations in several countries already have increased symptoms of depression and anxiety in several countries. The "Subject in Focus" is WHO’s continued collaboration with the aviation and tourism sectors.

14 May: Lesotho is the most recent country to confirm its first COVID-19 case. An interim guideline for laboratory biosafety for testing COVID-19 cases is released. Two apps have been launched; the WHO Academy provides support for health workers and WHO Info has latest news for the general public. The Director-General has urged for “all countries to invest in strong health systems and primary health care, as the best defence against outbreaks like COVID-19” and to continue on the path to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, a joint statement from several global agencies has highlighted the increased vulnerability of people in prisons and closed institutions to COVID-19.

Finally, the subject in focus today is “Cleaning and Disinfection of Environmental Surfaces.” This covers recommended cleaning methods for healthcare and non-healthcare settings, and that spraying disinfectants on environmental surfaces, outdoor spaces or individuals is not recommended.

13 May: The WHO situational update - 114 includes an updated annex [PDF 285kb] to the guidance on "considerations on adjusting public health and social measures (PHSM)" published yesterday. The document provides direction for countries to adapt their own PHSM. The United Kingdom and the WHO have begun a joint project to raise awareness of the dangers of misinformation. The "Subject in Focus" discusses WHO guidelines for school related public health measures.

12 May: The WHO situational update - 113 includes guidance on 'Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19'. the document "provides considerations for decision-makers and educators on how or when to re-open or close schools in the context of COVID-19" and includes factors relating to:

  • Current understanding about COVID-19 transmission and severity in children
  • Local situation and epidemiology of COVID-19 where the school(s) are located
  • School setting and ability to maintain COVID-19 prevention and control measures

The document also provides recommended measures for school re-opening and monitoring of schools after re-opening.

After a review of studies by public health experts, WHO has issued a 'Statement on Tobacco use and COVID-19'. They found that, when compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19.

The 'Subject in Focus' describes the collaboration within a technical network of universities, architects, biomedical engineers and other health experts to support for COVID-19 treatment centres.

There is a link to The Director-General Dr. Tedros media briefing yesterday.

10 May: Updates in the latest situation report include a scientific brief examining how ACE-inhibitors and receptor blockers impact COVID-19 related respiratory illness and Spanish language guidelines for COVID-19 prevention measures on construction projects.

9 May: In the report number 110, update to the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 was issued. The event was covered in a UN news story and a recording on YouTube is available. A new interim guidance was also released on "how to adapt COVID-19 prevention and response measures for use in low capacity and humanitarian settings." WHO has also launched a video that "summarises key moments in the response".

8 May: WHO launched a checklist to support prison administrators and policy-makers for rapid and effective response to COVID-19. The WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge stated his concern about the increase in interpersonal violence during COVID-19, and emphasized that “violence is preventable, not inevitable”. On the 33rd anniversary of smallpox eradication, the "Subject in Focus" discuses how that experience can offer insight into the fight against COVID-19.

See ‘Subject in Focus’ below. Today we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Smallpox Eradication by the 33rd World Health Assembly. In the ‘Subject in Focus’ below, we look at how the global community came together to eradicate one of the most feared diseases of all time and how we can learn from this experience to fight COVID-19 today.

7 May: "WHO, UNICEF and the International Federation of the Red Cross have published guidance for countries on how to maintain community-based healthcare in the context of COVID-19. It complements the United Nations framework for the socio-economic response to COVID-19." This is important advice as it remains vital for people to have access to healthcare for both acute and chronic conditions other than COVID-19. "When health systems are overwhelmed and people fail to access needed services, both direct mortality and indirect mortality from preventable and treatable conditions increase"

6 May: The WHO Regional Director for the Americas warned that reducing social distancing measures “too soon could accelerate the spread of the virus and open the door for a dramatic upsurge or for spread to adjacent areas”.

5 May: Leaders from 40 countries came together to support the WHO initiative, Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is a collaborative effort that supports the "development, production and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics against COVID-19". Furthermore, WHO has launched a COVID-19 Supply Portal, a tool that facilitates and consolidates supply requests from national authorities and its partners.

Today is Hand Hygiene Day, more important than ever to promote the importance of hand hygiene practices worldwide. WHO's Regional Director for South-East Asia, said that "Effective infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene, are crucial to ensuring health facilities do not become hubs of COVID-19 transmission".

4 May: Polio disease surveillance teams are reaching into the most far-flung places of the globe to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The Subject in Focus is WHO coordination with its partners like UNICEF, the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the US CDC and OCHA.

3 May: The Country Preparedness and Response Status for COVID19 document has been updated, highlighting that all countries are at risk and need to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. An FAQ has been published for COVID-19 Supply Portal, which is a tool designed to facilitate requests for critical supplies.

1 May: Comoros and Tajikistan reported their first cases. The third meeting of the Emergency Committee regarding COVID-19 was convened. For more details see the Pandemic news item on it. In this situation report, the subject of focus was WHO’s work to ensure that shipping and seafarers can continue to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said that ‘Effective infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene, are crucial to ensuring health facilities do not become hubs of COVID-19 transmission’.


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