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Health

WHO says it investigating potential cluster of COVID-19 cases among staff

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) are pictured during the World Health Assembly (WHA) following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Geneva, Switzerland, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday there had been 65 coronavirus infections among staff at its Geneva headquarters since the start of the pandemic and that a possible small cluster of cases was under investigation.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead for COVID-19, said that five WHO staff members had tested positive in the past week, adding: “All are doing well, all have had mild disease or (are) asymptomatic.”

Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, said that the Swiss cantons of Geneva, where the U.N. health agency is based, and the adjoining Vaud canton have “some of the most intense transmission in the world right now.”

“To my knowledge the cluster being investigated is the first evidence of potential transmission on the site of WHO, but we can’t completely protect ourselves from our own social and other engagements with family and school and so many other things,” he said.WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday marked his return from quarantine after being identified as a contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I was okay, no symptoms. It’s day 17 now. I followed the protocols. Because of no symptoms and also the full follow-up of the protocol, I didn’t see the need for testing. I can assure you that I’m okay and actually very, very busy,” Tedros said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge in Geneva and Michael Shields in Zurich; Writing by Nick Macfie and Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by David Goodman and Cynthia Osterman

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