UN health agency’s advice for the holidays: Don’t hug



The World Health Organisation (WHO) has an unwelcome but potentially life-saving message for the holiday season: Don’t hug.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, WHO’s emergencies chief, on Monday, said that the shocking rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths, particularly in the US, means that people should not get too close to their loved ones this year.

“The epidemic in the US is punishing. It is widespread,” said Dr Michael Ryan.

“It’s frankly shocking, to see one to two persons a minute die in the US, a country with a wonderful, strong health system (and) amazing technological capacities,” he said.

“At the moment, the US accounts for a third of the COVID-19 cases in the world,” Ryan added.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the country has recorded over 280,000 coronavirus deaths to date.

Ryan was responding to a question during a news conference about whether hugs could be considered close contact, which the UN health agency has advised against in areas of high coronavirus transmission.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the organisation’s technical lead on COVID-19, said that most transmissions happen among people who spend a lot of time together, sharing meals and indoor spaces in workplaces or homes.

“But it is sometimes hard to disentangle how the virus spreads,” Kerkhove said.

“It’s a horrible thing to think that we would be here as the World Health Organisation saying to people, ‘Don’t hug each other.’ It’s terrible. That is the brutal reality in places like the United States right now,” added Ryan. (PTI)


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