WHO has recorded 65 cases of coronavirus at Geneva HQ, internal email reveals

The International Well being Group has recorded 65 circumstances of the coronavirus amongst group primarily based at its headquarters, together with no less than one cluster of infections, an inside e-mail acquired through The Related Press displays, regardless of the company’s previous assertions that there was no transmission on the Geneva web site.

The revelation comes amid a surge of circumstances in Europe, host nation Switzerland, and the town of Geneva, specifically, and the e-mail mentioned about part of the infections had been in individuals who have been running from house. However 32 had been in group who have been running on premises on the headquarters development, indicating that the well being company’s strict hygiene, screening and different prevention measures weren’t enough to spare it from the pandemic.

Farah Dakhlallah, a WHO spokeswoman, showed the accuracy of the details about the case depend in an e-mail to the AP and that officers had been nonetheless investigating.

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“We’ve no longer but established whether or not transmission took place on campus, however are taking a look into the subject,” Dakhlallah mentioned.

Raul Thomas, who heads trade operations at WHO, emailed group on Friday noting that 5 folks — 4 at the identical workforce and one that had touch with them— had examined sure for COVID-19. Whilst the e-mail didn’t use the time period “cluster,” one is typically outlined as two or extra circumstances in the similar space, and the 5 circumstances point out elementary an infection keep an eye on and social distancing procedures had been most probably being damaged.

A prior e-mail he despatched on Oct. 16 indicated that no clusters have been discovered on the web site.

“As in keeping with usual protocols, those colleagues are receiving the vital clinical consideration and are improving at house,” the e-mail Friday mentioned. “Those remaining 5 circumstances carry the overall reported collection of affected individuals of the Geneva primarily based personnel to 65 for the reason that starting of the pandemic.”


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The e-mail didn’t specify who used to be inflamed, however a WHO staffer with direct wisdom of the placement who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of she used to be no longer approved to talk to the clicking mentioned the cluster integrated a member of the WHO director-general’s management workforce who could also be an an infection keep an eye on specialist.

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Thomas’ e-mail used to be despatched after different WHO officers raised issues that individuals who have been in touch with the cluster had been nonetheless running within the Geneva development and doubtlessly exposing others to COVID-19, the staffer mentioned.

The senior supervisor reportedly held a number of in-person conferences at WHO in early November earlier than trying out sure remaining week. The individual, contacted through the AP, referred all feedback to the WHO media place of work.

WHO has confronted repeated grievance of its dealing with of the pandemic. U.S. President Donald Trump accused the U.N. company of “colluding” with China to cover the level of the preliminary outbreak. In June, the AP discovered WHO publicly lauded China for its velocity and transparency, despite the fact that personal conferences confirmed WHO officers pissed off that the rustic sat on liberating crucial outbreak data.

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In keeping with Thomas’ e-mail, 49 of the whole circumstances had took place within the remaining 8 weeks, “thus very a lot consistent with the placement being reported in Geneva and the encompassing spaces.” He added that “a better collection of circumstances amongst those that telework may have long gone unreported.”

Enhanced measures to “scale back our chance profile” had been being regarded as, the e-mail mentioned.

“In the end, individuals of the personnel are reminded that bodily conferences, together with gatherings in commonplace spaces or within the cafeteria, are strongly discouraged and will have to simplest happen the place completely vital,” it added.

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Somewhere else in Geneva, eating places are amongst many public venues which have been closed to stop the unfold of COVID-19.


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Final month, Thomas advised WHO staffers the company used to be limiting get entry to to its Geneva headquarters to crucial staffers, together with senior administrators, their assistants and control officials. “All individuals for the personnel are reminded to at all times stay correct hand hygiene, admire bodily distancing requirements (no less than one meter) and put on mask, when distancing isn’t imaginable,” he wrote.

In commonplace occasions, an estimated 2,400 folks incessantly paintings at WHO’s seven-story headquarters overlooking Geneva. Because the pandemic has swelled within the space, staffers were inspired to do business from home when imaginable. Non-staff guests were required to put on mask, and get entry to to the development has been curtailed.

And forward of WHO’s weeklong assembly of its member states remaining week — which used to be most commonly digital — staffers had been advised in an inside e-mail to take further precautions, together with mask-wearing in public puts.

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On Monday, from an unlimited assembly room on the headquarters, WHO Director-Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and different officers had been collaborating in a consultation of the company’s newest government board assembly, which used to be in large part carried out through video convention. He used to be getting back from a two-week self-quarantine at house after getting into touch with an individual who examined sure. As a result of Tedros didn’t display any signs himself, he used to be no longer examined for COVID-19 however stayed at house out of an abundance of warning.

On Nov. 2, WHO’s technical lead for the COVID-19 reaction, Maria Van Kerkhove, advised newshounds there have been no transmission or clusters at headquarters, earlier than including: “However it’s one thing that we’re tracking each day.”

The WHO press place of work didn’t reply to 2 emails from the AP — on Nov. 2 and Nov. 10 — asking what number of staffers primarily based at WHO headquarters had examined sure for COVID-19.

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Cheng reported from London.


© 2020 The Canadian Press

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