Published: 09:10, August 18, 2020 | Updated: 19:48, June 5, 2023
WHO: 'Supply nationalism' worsens COVID-19 pandemic
By Agencies

In this July 3, 2020 file photo, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (FABRICE COFFRINI / POOL / AFP)

MEXICO CITY / BRASILIA / SANTIAGO / PARIS / ADDIS ABABA / PARIS / ABUJA / CARACAS / BERLIN / GENEVA / MOSCOW - The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said that "supply nationalism" exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic and only by working together countries will all be benefited from the global supply chain.

"Some countries put in place export restrictions and there were several instances of requisitioning key medical supplies for national use," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a virtual press conference.

He stressed that the fastest way to end the pandemic and reopen economies is to protect "the highest risk populations everywhere, rather than the entire populations of just some countries."

"Every new disease outbreak presents new challenges but from a logistics perspective, COVID-19 has been one of the toughest challenges we've ever faced," he said.

He told reporters that WHO has worked with partners, including the Alibaba Foundation of China, to purchase and deliver hundreds of millions of pieces of protective equipment for health workers.

"Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each countries national interest," he said.  

The WHO also said it was concerned that the novel coronavirus spread was being driven by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, many of which were unaware they were infected, posing a danger to vulnerable groups.

WHO officials said this month the proportion of younger people among those infected had risen globally, putting at risk vulnerable sectors of the population worldwide, including the elderly and sick people in densely populated areas with weak health services.

People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected. This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable.

Takeshi Kasai, WHO Western Pacific regional director

"The epidemic is changing," WHO Western Pacific regional director, Takeshi Kasai, said during a virtual briefing. "People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected."

"This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable," he added.

"What we are observing is not simply a resurgence. We believe it's a signal that we have entered a new phase of pandemic in the Asia-Pacific," Kasai said.

He said countries were better able to reduce disruption to lives and economies by combining early detection and response to manage infections.

While mutations had been observed, the WHO still saw the virus as "relatively stable", Kasai said.

ALSO READ: Southeast Asia detects mutated virus strain sweeping the world

WHO also reminded drugmakers to follow all necessary research and development steps when creating a vaccine.

Global tally

Coronavirus cases worldwide on Tuesday surpassed 21.9 million while the global death toll topped 774,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Residents walk in front of murals painted on the side of an apartment paying tribute to medical workers, in the Buxton residential estate of the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya, Aug 17, 2020. (PHOTO / AP)

Africa tally

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa surged to 1,118,814 while the death toll rose to 25,618, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Monday.

The number of recoveries recorded across the continent stood at 834,262, according to the Africa CDC.

South Africa has the highest tally and death toll, with 587,345 cases and 11,839 deaths, according to the Africa CDC.

Trailing behind are Egypt, with 96,475cases and 5,160 deaths, and Nigeria, with 49,068 infections and 975 deaths.

The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Northern Africa and Western Africa regions, the Africa CDC said.

READ MORE: Africa cranks up efforts against disease


Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa on Tuesday said it had approved human clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen.

Brazil is the second-worst hit country for coronavirus cases and deaths after the United States, leading many vaccine developers to seek out clinical trials here.

Brazil reported 19,373 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 684 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.

Brazil has now registered 3,359,570 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 108,536, according to ministry data, marking the world's worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.


Belarus reported 84 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking its total to 69,673, according to the country's health ministry.

There have been 190 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 67,339, the ministry added.

So far, 617 people have died of the disease in the country, including four over the past 24 hours, it said.


The Chilean authorities shut down a mall in downtown Santiago on Monday morning after hundreds of people crowded into the precinct to buy merchandise to sell, just hours after a lockdown for the area was eased.

At least 300 people queued outside the Asia Pacific mall, which specializes in selling Chinese-made products, ahead of opening hours and rushed inside as private security guards attempted to dispense alcohol gel and take temperatures, in some cases resulting in physical clashes with shoppers.

The mall is situated in the capital's Central Station, a low-income area popular with informal workers and migrants, where a strict lockdown over the past three months was eased on Monday morning.

Chile reported 1,556 new cases and another 61 deaths on Monday, taking the tally to 387,502 and the death toll to 10,513, according to the Ministry of Health.


The Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection on Monday recorded 8,328 new COVID-19 infections and 275 more deaths in the last 24 hours, raising the country's tally to 476,660 and the death toll to 15,372 deaths.

According to the ministry, a total of 301,525 people have recovered from the disease so far.

Dominican Republic

Coronavirus cases in the Dominican Republic have risen to 86,737 while the death toll reached 1,481, health authorities said on Monday.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, there were 428 new cases and 28 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

Currently, 6,835 patients are being treated in hospital isolation wards and 24,313 people are self-isolating at home. Of those hospitalized, 295 are in intensive care units.

Some 54,108 patients have recovered so far, according to the ministry. 


Ecuador on Monday reported that the country has recorded a total of 101,751 COVID-19 cases and 6,083 deaths.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, 209 new cases and 13 more deaths were registered in the past 24 hours.

The capital Quito, home to 2.8 million residents, is the current national epicenter of the outbreak, with 18,600 people testing positive.

Local authorities have launched a tracking scheme to contain the spread of the virus in Quito by identifying contacts of confirmed patients for targeted testing and follow up.


Egypt confirmed on Monday 115 new COVID-19 infections and 13 more deaths, raising the tally to 96,590 and the death toll to 5,173, said the Health Ministry.

Recoveries rose by 908 to 60,651, Khaled Megahed, spokesman for the ministry, said.

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a woman with baby at a hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Aug 17, 2020. (MICHAEL TEWELDE / XINHUA)


Ethiopia's confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 31,336 after 1,460 new cases were confirmed on Monday, the Ministry of Health said.

The ministry said in a statement that 16 additional deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 544. 

The ministry added that recoveries rose by 165 to 12,524.


Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Tuesday she would take a COVID-19 test due to mild symptoms of an infection.

"I have mild respiratory symptoms. I will take a corona test and work remotely," Marin said on Twitter.

Last week, Finland recommended the use of face masks in public for the first time as the number of coronavirus cases rises.


The French government plans to make wearing a mask compulsory in the vast majority of workplaces from Sept 1 to try to stop a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The labour ministry said on Tuesday the new arrangement would apply to all shared spaces in offices and factories, but would not extend to individual offices where only one employee is present.

It also said that working from home would remain its recommended option for employees. A government official said masks at work would become mandatory from Sept 1.

Details will also be worked out for special work environments such as frozen food warehouses, where masks are not practical as they would freeze.

Mask-wearing is also compulsory nationwide on all public transport and in most indoor public spaces such as shops and museums, as well as in crowded outdoor areas in some cities.

France imposed some of Europe’s toughest lockdown restrictions earlier this year, greatly reducing the rate of coronavirus infections. But in the past few weeks the numbers of new COVID-19 cases have climbed, and public health officials have warned that contagion could spin out of control.

France reported 493 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours on Monday, sharply down from a caseload of above 3,000 each on the two previous days, but hospitalizations rose for a third day in a row.

The fresh infections pushed France's tally to 219,029.

ALSO READ: Europe clamps down on nightlife to regain grip on COVID spread

The number of people hospitalized for the disease rose by 65 to 4,925, and the number of people treated in intensive care units (ICU) has increased by 17 over the last three days to 384.

Coronavirus-related deaths were up by 19 on Monday to 30,429, after an increase of four over the weekend.


Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out any further loosening of virus measures, saying that a doubling in the number of daily cases in Germany in the last three weeks must be addressed.

Europe’s largest economy recorded the biggest increase in coronavirus cases in nearly four months on Tuesday, fueling fears about a resurgence of infections across the continent.

Germany is requiring people returning from heavily affected areas like Spain to quarantine for two weeks or present a negative test to thwart the disease from spreading in schools and workplaces.

There were 1,693 new German cases in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, the most since April 25, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of daily cases reached almost 7,000 at the peak of the pandemic in the spring.

There have been a number of outbreaks in recent weeks in settings such as larger family events and leisure activities, as well as in educational and professional facilities, according to the country’s Robert Koch Institute.


Travellers returning to Italy from Greece, Spain, Malta and Croatia lined up on Tuesday at centres across Rome to be tested for coronavirus after the health ministry imposed mandatory screening on visitors to the four countries.

Since some Italian airports are still not offering on site tests, people have been forced to attend local screening centres to comply with the regulation passed last week.

The government has also shut discos and clubs and ordered the use of masks between 6 pm and 6 am in open spaces where people gather.

READ MORE: Europe clamps down on nightlife to regain grip on COVID spread

Some 320 new cases were registered over the past 24 hours against 479 in the previous day, according to the latest statistics provided by the country's Health Ministry. Active infections rose by 134 to total 14,867. 

Four more deaths were reported, taking the death toll to 35,400, while recoveries rose by 182 to 203,968. 

Considering active infections, recoveries, and fatalities, the total of assessed cases stood at 254,235.


The total number of patients who have recovered from the COVID-19 disease in Kenya topped 17,000 on Monday.

Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health, said some 504 patients had recovered between Sunday and Monday after seeking treatment, bringing the total number of recoveries to 17,160.

Meanwhile, Aman said that 245 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the tally to 30,365.

He added that death toll has risen to 482.


The National Center for Disease Control of Libya on Monday reported 434 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 8,172.

The center said in a statement that 39 more patients have recovered while another eight people have died , raising the total recoveries in Libya to 933 and the death toll to 153.


The Lithuanian government decided on Monday to allow arrivals of all citizens and residents of the European Economic Area (EEA), the UK, and Switzerland from now on.

Those who arrive from the above countries with COVID-19 incidence rate above 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 calendar days will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to a government press release.

Foreigners arriving from the countries where the COVID-19 incidence rate is 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants will need to have a negative test taken within three days from the arrival and comply with Lithuania's quarantine rules.

According to the Ministry of Health, Lithuania had reported 2,436 confirmed cases by Monday afternoon, ncluding 81 deaths and 1,705 recoveries. 


Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera has said that the country will reopen schools and the Kamuzu International Airport in early September after thorough assessment of safety standards amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chakwera made the announcement in his weekend radio address on COVID-19, saying the country is now able to set some benchmarks for the restoration of social order and the recovery of the economy.

He said that when the airport opens, passengers arriving from abroad will need to have a certificate showing that they had been tested no more than 10 days before. All passengers will be tested again upon arrival and be transported to designated hotels for 48 hours of self-isolation while awaiting the results.

Meanwhile, the guidelines for the reopening of schools include compulsory wearing of masks by both teachers and students, physical distancing and regular hand washing and hand sanitizing.

Malawi has so far reported 5,072 COVID-19 cases, with 161 deaths.


Mexico's health ministry reported on Monday 3,571 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 266 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 525,733 cases and 57,023 deaths.

The government will in two weeks present a plan to revive the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, targeting sectors like construction and energy, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

"In 15 days, a plan for the reactivation of the economy will be presented," Lopez Obrador said during a regular conference, noting that the government was in talks with the influential Business Coordinating Council (CCE) about the initiative.

"We'll present a plan that will cover infrastructure construction, including in the energy sector," he added.

A policeman distributes protective masks as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh on Aug 17, 2020. (PHOTO / STR / AFP)


Morocco registered 1,069 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the country's tally of to 43,558, the health ministry said.

Recoveries rose by 597 to 29,941 while the death toll increased by 23 to 681, said Mouad Mrabet, coordinator of the Moroccan Center for Public Health Operations at the Ministry of Health, in a press briefing.


Namibia's annual international Windhoek Jazz Festival scheduled for November has been canceled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, organizers announced Tuesday.

Communications manager at the city of Windhoek municipality Harold Akwenye in an announcement said stakeholders jointly agreed to cancel the event because of national and international concern regarding the COVID-19.


Nigeria will reopen its airports for international flights from Aug 29, its aviation minister said on Monday.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said four flights would begin landing daily in Lagos, and four in Abuja, with strict protocols. He did not say where they would be coming from.

Passengers on international flights will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test in order to board and pay for another test after they arrive in Nigeria, Sirika said. They will also be required to fill in an online health questionnaire and present it to authorities when they land.

Those currently returning to Nigeria aboard repatriation flights are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, and authorities retain passports for that period. Sirika said on Monday they could "gradually" stop keeping passengers' passports.

Nigeria has so far reported 49,068 confirmed cases and 975 deaths.


Poland’s Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said on Tuesday he was resigning from his post.

The announcement came a day after Deputy Health Minister Janusz Cieszynski announced he was leaving the ministry.

The resignations come at a time of growing criticism of how Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has been dealing with the pandemic as the daily numbers of new infections remain high.


Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated in Moscow, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday.

"He came here, in fact, but then flew to Moscow," Mishustin said during a government meeting in the Far Eastern city of Blagoveshchensk, according to local media reports.

Nationwide, Russia reported 4,748 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing its tally to 932,493, the fourth largest in the world.

The country's coronavirus crisis response centre said 132 people had died of the disease in the last 24 hours, bringing the official coronavirus death toll to 15,872.

Medical workers get ready to take samples for PCR tests for the COVID-19 at a medical center in Madrid, Spain, Aug 17, 2020. (ANDREA COMAS / AP)


Spain diagnosed 1,833 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday, below Friday's post-lockdown record of 2,987 but more than three times the average seen in July.

Daily infection statistics tend to dip on Monday due to fewer diagnoses taking place on Sunday.

Cumulative cases, which include results from antibody tests on patients who may have already recovered, rose to 359,082, with 32,389 detected in the past seven days, the ministry said.


England will scrap the government agency responsible for responding to public health emergencies after the country has suffered the highest death rate in Europe from the coronavirus pandemic.

Public Health England, a cornerstone of the state-run health system with responsibility for managing infectious disease outbreaks, will have many of its functions merged with the government’s contact tracing service into a new body to be known as the National Institute for Health Protection.

England has suffered 55,634 excess deaths from coronavirus, according to Reuters calculations, with a surge that lasted longer and spread to more places than those in other hard-hit European nations like Italy and Spain.


A new analysis of hospitalization rates from the University of Minnesota showed African American, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaskan Native populations in the United States are significantly more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than whites.

The study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, found significant disparities among racial and ethnic groups after reviewing nearly 49,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations over a two-month period in the 12 US states that report such data for hospital patients.

Researchers noted that the disparities found in other population groups are largely reversed among Asian communities. In six of the 10 states that reported data for the Asian group, the proportion of hospitalizations was lower relative to their population representation.

Separately, according to an analysis of data from Utah by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks of the coronavirus in US workplaces have disproportionately hit Hispanic and non-white communities. According to the report, workers from those communities accounted for 73 percent of workplace-associated COVID-19 cases between March 6 and June 5, even though only 24 percent of Utah's workforce in all affected sectors identified as Hispanic, Latino or a race other than non-Hispanic whites.

The two separate reports come as US cases topped 5.43 million and deaths surpassed 170,000, according to a tally by John Hopkins University. Hard-hit US states including Arizona, California and Florida showed signs that their outbreaks are easing after a summer surge. 

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the state's gyms could open as soon as Aug 24 at 33 percent capacity as long as they enforce strict health measures, including mask-wearing, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Looser lockdowns were a factor in allowing the coronavirus to flourish in the US compared with some European countries, said Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease specialist. US workplaces shut down “somewhat,” but not as fully as Italy and Spain, said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “They shut down dramatically; we did not.” The approach is one of the reasons why US cases shot up as high as 70,000 a day after the lockdowns, while the European countries fell to low levels, he said.

Meanwhile, some US schools are closing again due to new outbreaks. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the largest schools to reopen with in-person instruction, said on Monday it would switch to online-only teaching for undergraduates, after testing showed rapid spread of the virus.


Uganda's ministry of health on Tuesday urged reporters to exercise caution while covering the COVID-19 pandemic.

The caution comes after two journalists reporting for two major media houses in the East African country tested positive for the virus.


Venezuela’s rate of infection of COVID-19 is set to overwhelm its testing capacity, likely leading to an artificial flattening of the contagion curve, a lawmaker and medical adviser to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Monday.

The country has registered 33,755 infections and 281 deaths, and infections have exceeded more than 1,000 a day.

President Nicolas Maduro says authorities have performed 1.64 million tests, but has not said if they are rapid tests or PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which are considered more reliable.

However, legislator Jose Manuel Olivares, from Guaido’s pandemic advisory team, said in an online media conference that authorities conduct just 600 to 800 tests a day and the results are delivered up to two weeks later. 

He added that sources in large public hospitals say deaths from COVID-19 could be at least double official numbers at 561, including 71 health workers. Maduro’s government says so far 13 doctors and nurses have died.


Zimbabwe recorded 47 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking the country's tally to 5,308.

A record 1,756 more people had recovered in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of recoveries to 3,848.

Three more deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 135.

Thanks to the record daily increase in recoveries, active cases sharply went down to 1,325 from 3,037 from the previous day.