Coronavirus | WHO informed India on January 11 about virus in Wuhan

Coronavirus | WHO informed India on January 11 about virus in Wuhan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) informed India as early as January 11 that the reported dates of onset of Covid-19 pandemic circulating in China’s Wuhan ranged between “12-29 December 2019,” according to information accessed through Right to Information (RTI). The RTI reply shows that the WHO also “advised against any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available on this event.”

In the RTI reply, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, New Delhi, sent an “alert mail” to Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan on January 11, 2020, regarding “novel corona virus circulating in Wuhan.”

Dr Singh’s mail to the Health Minister said, “I am writing to alert Your Excellency on the novel corona virus circulating in Wuhan, China. As you may know this causes a severe pneumonia. Thus far, fifty- nine (59) cases in total have been detected in Wuhan city as of 5 January through case finding and retrospective investigations. One death has been reported today, six of these cases are reported to be in severe condition, the remaining 52 cases are stable. The reported dates of onset range between 12-29 December 2019.”

After the first known case was detected in India on January 30, more than 77 lakh COVID-19 cases and around 1.17 lakh deaths have been reported in the country so far.

The WHO Regional Director’s mail further stated that preliminary investigation found “no evidence” of sustained human to human transmission and there were no infections reported among health care workers and based on the still limited amount of information available, the situation may evolve rapidly.

Dr Singh also wrote that “the current WHO advisory does not recommend any specific health measures for travellers.”

She also said in her mail, “It is generally considered that entry screening offers little benefit, while requiring considerable resources. In case of symptoms suggestive to respiratory illness before, during or after travel, the travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share travel history with their health care provider. WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available on this event.”

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