International News

WHO records 65 virus cases, with one cluster, at HQ

GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently recorded 65 cases of the coronavirus among staff based at its headquarters, including at least one cluster of infections, an internal email obtained by this news agency shows, despite the agency’s past assertions that there has been no transmission at the Geneva site.

The revelation comes amid a surge of cases in Europe, host country Switzerland, and the city of Geneva, in particular, and the email said about half of the infections were in people who had been working from home. But 32 were in staff who had been working on-premises at the headquarters building, indicating that the health agency’s strict hygiene, screening and other prevention measures were not sufficient to spare it from the pandemic.

Farah Dakhlallah, a WHO spokeswoman, confirmed the accuracy of the information about the case count in an email and that officials were still investigating.

“We have not yet established whether transmission occurred on campus, but are looking into the matter,” Dakhlallah said.

A previous email he sent on Oct 16 indicated that no clusters had been found at the site.

“As per standard protocols, these colleagues are receiving the necessary medical attention and are recovering at home,” the email on recently said. These last five cases bring the total reported number of affected members of the Geneva-based workforce to 65 since the beginning of the pandemic. Thomas’ email was sent after other WHO officials raised concerns that people who had been in contact with the cluster were still working in the Geneva building and potentially exposing others to COVID-19, the staffer said.

The senior manager reportedly held several in-person meetings at WHO in early November before testing positive last week. The person referred all comments to the WHO media office.

-Courtesy by AP

November 18, 2020

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