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WHO says test, despite CDC’s recent flip flop

04:34 AM August 28, 2020

In this file photo dated Monday, May 17, 2004, The World Health Organisation, WHO, logo seen at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The World Health Organization’s top official in Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge warned Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, that the coronavirus is a “tornado with a long tail”, saying rising case counts among young people could ultimately spread the virus, and WHO issued advice to hotels as cases across Europe have increased amid the summer holiday season. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone FILE via AP)

LONDON — The World Health Organization (WHO) said countries should actively test people to find coronavirus cases, even if they have mild or no symptoms.

That’s despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recently switched guidance to say asymptomatic contacts of cases don’t need to be tested.

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Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for the coronavirus, said when officials are investigating clusters of COVID-19, “testing may need to be expanded to look for individuals who are on the more mild end of the spectrum or who may indeed be asymptomatic.”

Van Kerkhove said countries were free to adapt their testing guidance for their individual needs and its critical how fast countries get results.

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“What’s really important is that testing is used as an opportunity, to define active cases so that they can be isolated and so that contact tracing can also take place,” Van Kerkhove said. “This is really fundamental to breaking chains of transmission.”

Earlier in the pandemic, WHO recommended that countries focus on “testing, testing, testing.”

Van Kerkhove also said wearing masks alone to protect against the spread of the coronavirus isn’t enough, expressing concerns that people are growing too lax on maintaining physical distancing.

“So, it’s not just masks alone. It’s not just physical distancing alone,” Van Kerkhove said. “It’s not just hand cleaning alone. Do it all.”

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