Story at a glance
- The WHO on Monday said the infections occurred in employees working from home and onsite.
- The UN health agency is investigating whether any transmission occurred onsite.
- Of the 65 recorded cases, 32 include those working from home, and 49 cases occurred in the last eight weeks.
A total of 65 World Health Organization (WHO) staffers stationed at the agency’s Geneva headquarters have tested positive for COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic.
The WHO on Monday said the infections occurred in employees working from home and onsite, and the agency is looking into whether any transmission of the virus actually occurred on campus.
Of the 65 recorded cases, 32 include those working from home and 49 cases occurred in the last eight weeks. WHO said that’s “in line with the epidemiological situation in Geneva and surrounding areas.”
Since the start of the pandemic, a total 65 WHO staff stationed in Geneva - working from home and onsite - have tested positive for #COVID19. We have not yet established whether any transmission has occurred on campus, but are looking into the matter.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 16, 2020
“As per standard protocols, they received the necessary medical attention and are recovering at home. WHO Staff Health and Wellbeing carried out full contact tracing and related protocols. Enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented in relevant offices,” a WHO spokesperson told Changing America.
The Associated Press (AP) reports Raul Thomas, the head of business operations at WHO, emailed staff Friday saying five people, including four on the same team and another who was exposed to them, contracted COVID-19. AP reports the staffers included a member of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s leadership team who is an infection control specialist, citing an anonymous source.
The WHO said it has not confirmed a cluster of infections on WHO premises at this time.
On Monday, Tedros participated in a media briefing following a two-week self-quarantine at home after coming into contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19. He said on Monday he did not need to be tested following exposure because he had completed his quarantine and experienced no symptoms.
The situation for the health agency working to combat the pandemic globally comes as Geneva is experiencing a worsening outbreak that’s caused public venues to close.
Other parts of Europe and the Americas are also experiencing record outbreaks. Tedros on Monday said he was concerned by the surge in cases and emphasized that “this is not the time for complacency.”
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