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WHO convenes global forum on coronavirus

11th February 2020 BY: African News Agency

A two-day World Health Organisation (WHO) global research and innovation forum to mobilise international action in response to the novel coronavirus kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

The forum was expected to produce a global research agenda for the coronavirus, setting priorities and frameworks that could guide which projects were undertaken first.

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"Understanding the disease, its reservoirs, transmission and clinical severity and then developing effective counter-measures is critical for the control of the outbreak, to reduce deaths and minimise the economic impact," said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist.

The virus was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31.

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According to the Chinese government, a total of 42 638 cases had been confirmed, while 1 016 had died in the country, as of Monday night.

"Publications, patents and profits are not what matters most now. What matters most is stopping the 2019nCoV outbreak, and saving lives. With your support, that is what we can do together," WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

He said harnessing the power of science was critical for bringing the outbreak under control.

"We hope that one of the outcomes of this meeting will be an agreed roadmap for research around which researchers and donors will align."

The forum brought together key players including leading scientists as well as public health agencies, ministries of health and research funders pursuing 2019-nCoV critical animal health and public health research, and the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, among other innovations.

Participants were set to discuss several areas of research, including identifying the source of the virus as well as sharing of biological samples and genetic sequences. 

EDITED BY: African News Agency
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