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WHO cautions against ‘partisan’ approaches to Covid-19 as cases begin to spike again

THE World Health Organisation’s (WHO) European director, Dr Hans Kluge, has warned countries not to reduce quarantine periods for people suspected of being exposed to Covid-19.

Dr Kluge said that “even a slight reduction in the length of quarantine” could have a significant effect as coronavirus cases begin to spike again across the continent.

WHO Europe’s 53-country region recorded more than 300,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the last week, and more than half of the countries reported a rise of more than 10 per cent in cases over the last two weeks, he said, adding that this should be “a wake-up call for all of us.”

The medical expert’s intervention came after France cut its required quarantine time from 14 days to a week.

And he addressed international divisions over the virus, arguing that responses had been effective when “prompt and resolute” but that “the virus has [been] merciless whenever partisanship and disinformation prevailed.”

This was seen by some as a reference to the US government, which has withdrawn from the WHO and used Covid-19 as a political football against China internationally and against the Democrats at home.

US President Donald Trump contradicted Dr Robert Redfield, his own appointee to head the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that a Covid vaccine would probably only become “generally available to the American public” in the “late second quarter, third quarter 2021.” Mr Trump has claimed one could be ready very soon.

Mr Trump told reporters that Dr Redfield must have been “confused” when he addressed Congress, adding: “It’s just incorrect.” He also took issue with Dr Redfield’s claim that masks might prove more effective than a vaccine at limiting the spread, saying: “Maybe he misunderstood it.”

Though the US government advises people to wear masks when in close contact with others, Mr Trump again queried whether doing so was a good idea.

On Tuesday, while celebrating normalisation of relations between Israel and the Gulf dictatorships of Bahrain and the UAE, the president said: “There are a lot of people that think that masks are not good.” Asked who, he said: “Waiters.”

He has also accused Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden of promoting “anti-vaccine conspiracy theories” for questioning whether a US vaccine will be safe to use this year.

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