WHO finds COVID-19 cluster at its headquarters in Switzerland


The World Health Organization is working with a coronavirus cluster at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland – with a top infection control specialist at the global agency among those who test positive.

In an email to employees obtained by the Associated Press on Friday, five WHO employees, four from the same team, had recently contracted the bug – bringing the total number of agency employees who started the epidemic. Since 65 tested positive, 49 of them in the last eight weeks.

Although the new cases in the email were not referred to as clusters, two or more cases in the same region are usually classified as such.

Nearly half of the infected employees were working from home, but 32 were working out of headquarters in Geneva.

One of the affected workers is an infection control specialist in the director general’s leadership team, an employee told the News Service.

The outbreak shows that infection control measures and social disturbances have failed to be charged by the very agency to oversee the spread of the epidemic and develop the vaccine.

For example, a senior manager of the WHO reportedly held several in-person meetings earlier this month before testing positive for coronovirus.

Tedros Adnom Ghebreyas
Tedros Adnom GhebreyasAP

In Friday’s email, WHO’s head of business operations Raoul Thomas told employees that measures were now being considered to “lower our risk profile”.

“Finally, members of the workforce are reminded that physical meetings, including gatherings in common areas or cafeterias, are strongly discouraged and should only take place where necessary.”

The agency last month banned key staff and senior officials at the Geneva facility as a precaution against the virus, and reminded workers to wear masks, practice social distance and “always keep proper hand hygiene” .

About 2,400 people work from the seven-story headquarters building in the Swiss city, though many have been assigned to work from home during the epidemic, which has re-spread in Europe and the US in recent weeks.

With post wires

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