Russia informs WHO of its first case of avian flu strain in humans

Russia informs WHO of its first case of avian flu strain in humans | Juan Manila


The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed to CNN that Russian authorities have detected what is believed to be “human infection with avian influenza H5N8.”

Russia reported to WHO of the possible strain. “If confirmed, this would be first time H5N8 has infected people, ” says a WHO Europe spokesperson.

According to preliminary information, the reported cases were workers exposed to bird flocks. Said workers were “asymptomatic and no onward human-to-human transmission was reported,” says the spokesperson.

On a televised briefing, meanwhile, Dr. Anna Popova, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being, says that the strain had been detected in seven poultry workers in the south of the country, Russian news agency TASS reported.

While no confirmation has been released yet from the WHO, Russian health authorities are in discussion with national authorities to gather more information and “assess the public health impact” of the incident. As avian flu usually affects only birds, there are reportedly many strains of it.

Most cases of human infection are caused by contact with infected poultry or surfaces that are contaminated with infected bird excretions: saliva, nasal secretions, or feces.

In 2014 the H5N8 outbreak infected poultry farms in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. (JSM/JuanManila)

China urged to release complete data on Covid-19 origins

China urged to release complete data on Covid-19 origins

“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak,” United States (US) National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says after the World Health Organization (WHO) has released it findings on a month-long study of the origins of the strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (CoViD-19). 

WHO experts voiced their frustration over the lack of access to data during their recent mission to China to probe the origins of the coronavirus. China refused to give raw data on early coronavirus cases, according to one of the team’s investigators. They were only provided a summary, said Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert and a member of the WHO team, told Reuters news agency.


US has ‘deep concerns’

The White House expressed “deep concerns” about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 report on the pandemic’s origin.

In a statement Sullivan says that it is imperative that the report be independent and free from “alteration by the Chinese government,” echoing concerns raised by former President Donald Trump’s administration on the issue. The Trump administration had exited the WHO, alleging the international health body was under Chinese influence.

“Reengaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards,” Sullivan said. “We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.”

The Trump administration also said it suspected the coronavirus may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, an allegation that Beijing strongly denies.


China hits back

Over the weekend’s two-hour phone conversation between the two nations, China hits back at the US over allegations from the White House that Beijing withheld some information about the coronavirus outbreak from World Health Organization investigators.

China released a statement from its Washington embassy on Sunday, that says the US had already gravely damaged international cooperation on Covid-19 and is now “pointing fingers at other countries who have been faithfully supporting the WHO and at the WHO itself”.

While it welcomes President Joe Biden’s decision to reverse the Trump administration’s move to leave the WHO, China hopes the US would “hold itself to the highest standards, take a serious, earnest, transparent and responsible attitude, shoulder its rightful responsibility, support the WHO’s work with real actions and make due contribution to the international cooperation on Covid-19” the statement says.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday all hypotheses were still open about the origins of Covid-19, after Washington said it wanted to review data from a WHO-led mission to China, where the virus first emerged. (JSM/JuanManila)