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WHO warns of a lack of equipment to protect against coronavirus

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday that the world is facing a shortage of masks and other protective equipment against the emerging coronavirus.

“The world is facing a chronic shortage of individual protection equipment,” said the organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Gabrios, noting that the demand “increased by up to a hundred times compared to normal conditions, while prices increased about 20 times.”

He added that he would speak to officials in the supply chain to settle the “bottleneck” in production.

He pointed out that “the main priority for workers in the medical field, and the second for people who are sick or interested in patients,” adding that the health organization “does not encourage the creation of stocks in countries or regions where transmission (infection) is low.”

The Chinese government admitted early this week that it urgently needed protective masks to counter the emerging coronavirus, which has infected 31,161 people in mainland China, of whom 636 have died, according to the latest official toll.

In the rest of the world, 240 infections were confirmed in 30 countries or regions and two deaths in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

This week, the World Health Organization announced that it would send masks, gloves, protective clothing, breathing apparatus, and equipment to detect the virus to countries seeking assistance.

However, Gabrius regrets that some countries did not share data on the disease, without calling it. “We urge these member states to exchange this information immediately,” he said.

He declared that “no country or organization can overcome (this disease) alone. Our only hope is that we can work together.”

For her part, responsible for the Emerging Diseases Unit of the World Health Organization, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that 82% of documented cases were considered non-serious, 15% of them were serious and 3% were “critical”.

She added that 2% resulted in death.

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