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WHO: Russia-Ukraine war could lead to undetected COVID transmission

WHO: Russia-Ukraine war could lead to undetected COVID transmission
March 03
11:56 2022

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the Russia-Ukraine war may result in undetected transmission of COVID-19.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Tedros Ghebreyesu, WHO director-general, said the organisation is deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian emergency in Ukraine.

He pointed out that prior to the conflict, Ukraine had experienced a surge in cases of COVID-19.

“Low rates of testing since the start of the conflict mean there is likely to be significant undetected transmission,” he said.

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“Coupled with low vaccination coverage, this increases the risk of large numbers of people developing severe disease.

“Critical shortages of oxygen will have an impact on the ability to treat patients with COVID-19 and many other conditions.

“At least three major oxygen plants in Ukraine have now closed, and we are seeking ways of accessing oxygen from neighbouring countries and ways to deliver it safely to where it’s needed.

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“Mass population movements are likely to contribute further to transmission of COVID-19, potentially increasing pressure on health systems in neighbouring countries.”

The director-general said the WHO is on the ground working with partners to respond, to assess the impact of the conflict on the health of Ukraine’s people and its health system, and to deliver essential medical supplies.

He also said the WHO is “deeply concerned” about reports of attacks on health facilities and health workers.

“We have received several unconfirmed reports of attacks on hospitals and health infrastructure, and one confirmed incident last week, in which a hospital came under heavy weapons attack, killing four people and injuring ten, including six health workers,” he said.

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“We are currently in the process of verifying several other incidents. The sanctity and neutrality of health care – including of health workers, patients, supplies, transport and facilities – and the right to safe access to care, must be respected and protected.

“Attacks on health care are in violation of international humanitarian law.”

 

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