WHO chief warns coronavirus pandemic 'far from over'

The spread of COVID-19 is disrupting immunisation programmes for children in many countries, the World Health Organisation says.

WHO chief warns coronavirus pandemic 'far from over'

The coronavirus pandemic is "far from over" and is still disrupting normal health services, especially life-saving immunisation for children in the poorest countries, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

The UN agency is concerned about rising numbers of cases and deaths in Africa, eastern Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries even as the numbers flatten or decline in some wealthier countries.

"We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference in Geneva yesterday, adding that a second wave of infections could be prevented with the right actions.

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The coronavirus, which emerged late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has already infected 2.97 million and claimed 205,948 lives, according to the latest Reuters tally.

Mr Ghebreyesus expressed concern that the health of children was being threatened by the impact of the coronavirus emergency on vaccination programmes for other diseases.

"Children may be at relatively low risk from severe disease and death from COVID-19 - the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus - but can be at high risk from other diseases that can be prevented with vaccines," Mr Ghebreyesus said.

About 13 million people have been affected worldwide by delays in regular immunisations against diseases including polio, measles, cholera, yellow fever and meningitis, he said.

Shortages of vaccines against other diseases are being reported in 21 countries as a result of border restrictions and disruptions to travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Ghebreyesus said, citing the GAVI global vaccine alliance.

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"The number of malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa could double," he said, referring to the potential impact of COVID-19 on regular malaria services.

"That doesn't have to happen, we are working with countries to support them."

WHO's top emergencies expert Dr Mike Ryan, asked about some US states lifting restrictions despite a lack of contact-tracing and the government's handling of the crisis, said the US seemed to have a clear science-based federal plan for fighting its coronavirus epidemic.

"The federal government and the system of governors are working together to move America and its people through this very difficult situation," Dr Ryan said.

But the federal system linking 50 states made the situation "complex", he added.

Dr Ryan also repeated an earlier WHO warning against easing restrictions too soon.

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Source : 9 News More   

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Target, Kmart slump offsets Bunnings surge

Wesfarmers says a strong performance by its Bunnings and Officeworks stores during virus-enforced lockdowns has been offset by slowing momentum at Kmart and the already underperforming Target business.

Target, Kmart slump offsets Bunnings surge

Wesfarmers says a strong performance by its Bunnings and Officeworks stores during virus-enforced lockdowns has been offset by slowing momentum at Kmart and the already underperforming Target business.

The conglomerate on Tuesday said its home hardware giant Bunnings and electronics, stationery and furniture retailer Officeworks experienced significant demand growth as customers and their families spent more time working, learning and relaxing at home during coronavirus lockdowns.

The picture has been bleaker at department store chains Kmart and Target. At both stores, sales growth in the third quarter was broadly in line with the the first half of the financial year, supported by strong growth in online sales, but has deteriorated in recent weeks.

Kmart remains profitable but earnings at Target have declined significantly as customer footfall drops in shopping centres and discretionary categories weaken, particularly apparel.

Wesfarmers said the trend is expected to persist while social distancing and isolation measures remain in place, and while many tenants and activities within major shopping centres are not operating. Its strategic review of Target will be delivered by June 30.

In February, Kmart swung to a 5.5 per cent first-half comparable sales growth from a 0.6 per cent decline a year ago, with revenue at the discount department store up $241 million or 7.6 per cent to $4.99 billion.

Target's comparable sales went the other way though, falling 2.3 per cent compared with 0.5 per cent growth a year ago.

Source : 9 News More   

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