WHO: Without vaccine, drugs, COVID-19 still a global emergency

A beauty shop worker wears a face mask while threading a woman's eyebrows at a business in Jerusalem, Israel, on Friday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
A beauty shop worker wears a face mask while threading a woman's eyebrows at a business in Jerusalem, Israel, on Friday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

May 1 (UPI) -- The coronavirus pandemic is still a "public health emergency of international concern," the World Health Organization said Friday as it urged more global cooperation.

The WHO Emergency Committee declared the pandemic an official emergency at its Jan. 30 meeting. It opens financial support for less developed countries and aims to help prevent outbreaks from reaching areas that are poorly equipped to handle them.


"The COVID-19 pandemic is not finished," emergency committee member Dr. Didier Houssin said, adding that there is still a lack of vaccines and approved therapies.

Houssin urged world leaders to unite behind WHO leadership at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has withheld funding and is calling for an investigation of the body's response to the pandemic.

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"Governments need to support WHO," Houssin said. "We only have one WHO and we are in the middle of a pandemic."

Friday's committee made a series of recommendations for handling of the crisis, including greater efforts to help vulnerable nations bolster their food supplies and development of a strategy to allow air transport to return to normal.

By Friday afternoon, there have been about 3.2 million coronavirus cases and 234,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.


Earlier Friday, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock reported 739 new deaths and 6,200 new cases. Britain has the world's fourth-highest toll after the United States, Spain and Italy.

Hancock said Britain met is "audacious" goal of administering 100,000 COVID-19 tests by the end of the April.

In India, the Ministry of Home Affairs extended lockdown measures by two weeks. They were set to expire Sunday.

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The extension includes new social guidelines tailored to varying infection levels in different areas.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said restrictions could be eased next Friday due to public efforts to curb the spread. He praised Australians for cooperating and said they "deserve an early mark" for their work.

"We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society, we can't keep Australia under the doona," he said, referring to a native quilt. "We need to be able to move ahead."

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Canberra's national cabinet will meet next week to discuss lifting restrictions.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced most sectors of the economy will reopen on Monday.

"Beginning May 4, almost all economic sectors will be allowed to open with conditions," he said in a televised address. "This is important as business and work are sources of income. If was are under [movement control order] for too long, we will not get any income and this will have a bad impact on your finances."


Malaysia, which has 6,000 cases and 102 deaths, imposed the partial lockdown on March 18.

Scenes from a pandemic: World copes with COVID-19

A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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