WHO sounds virus alarm for Western Pacific

Jakarta, Aug 18 (AP) The World Health Organisation said countries in the Western Pacific – a vast region comprising nearly 1.9 billion people – have entered a new phase of coronavirus pandemic response and urged regional governments to continue to promote behaviour that protects community health.

This is “the phase where governments will need to deal with multiple increases or surges, but in a sustainable way”, said Dr Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific.

He said governments will need to have earlier targeted responses to outbreaks, continue to improve health care systems, and promote healthy new normal habits that will help prevent the spread of the virus.

Approaches like this could be more effective and minimise social disruptions and impact on economies, Kasai said.

The WHO also warned that countries in the region – including Australia, the Philippines and Japan – are reporting increasing numbers of people under 40 contracting the virus.

Many are unaware they are infected with very mild symptoms, or none at all,” Kasai said. This can result in them unknowingly passing on the virus to others

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