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Red Cross scales up preparedness for global response as novel coronavirus declared an international health emergency

Geneva/Kuala Lumpur, 31 January 2020 – As the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues spreading beyond China, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is scaling up preparedness efforts to support people who are most vulnerable to the outbreak in Asia Pacific and beyond.

Dr Emanuele Capobianco IFRC’s Director for Health and Care said:

“The threat of a coronavirus pandemic is real and cannot be underestimated.  We are working with Red Cross Red Crescent Societies around the world to prepare and respond globally as the outbreak evolves. National Societies globally are trusted partners with long experience in preparing for and responding to diseases. With 13 million volunteers, we can play an important role in national and international response efforts against this novel coronavirus.”

IFRC has released its maximum amount of one million Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund for an initial surge of specialists to be deployed and prepositioned for National Societies in countries which are most vulnerable to the virus’ spread, with a current focus in Asia Pacific. In addition, IFRC is launching a global emergency appeal for three million Swiss francs to support National Societies to deliver assistance and provide risk communication, community engagement and services provision to affected communities.

Xavier Castellanos, IFRC’s Regional Director for the Asia Pacific said:
“As the situation evolves, our top priority is to mobilize National Society volunteers to engage communities on measures to prevent further transmission of the virus and to reduce rumours and panic. In disease outbreaks, information is power and helps people protect themselves and their loved ones. Where needed, Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers will also provide psychosocial support to affected communities with special attention on older and marginalized groups, families and health personnel.”

In China and across Asia Pacific, National Red Cross Societies are engaging people and communities – online and offline – in helping prevent misinformation and reduce fear and improving hygiene by promoting effective measures such as handwashing. Across some parts of China, the Red Cross Society of China staff and volunteers are carrying out health education and promotion, checking the temperature of members of the public, and responding to emergency callouts to people with fever.

IFRC to majorly ramp up coronavirus programmes across the globe

Geneva/Kuala Lumpur, 11 February 2020 – With the novel coronavirus steadily spreading beyond China and rising death toll, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is expanding its novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) response and preparedness programmes.

A 32 million Swiss franc global emergency appeal will support community-based health activities, access to basic services, and the management of misinformation and stigma – all equally crucial to control the spread of the virus. In the past two weeks the IFRC has been on the ground, supporting National Societies in countries where the outbreak is spreading, mainly in the Asia Pacific region. Through this emergency appeal, the IFRC hopes to invest in preparedness activities in other countries, with a focus on those whose health systems are already under pressure.

IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain, said: “We recognize the gravity of the global threat posed by this novel coronavirus. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are playing an important role in battling this outbreak, and we must now step up our support to them.  Right now, millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers in 192 countries are connected to their local communities, playing an important role in efforts against this outbreak, or ready to act in case of an outbreak.”

Assistance will be tailored to each country depending on its epidemic preparedness and response, as well as the vulnerability of particular groups of people in the community.

IFRC’s Director of Health and Care, Emanuele Capobianco, said: “Online and offline, volunteers are already at work, educating the public about this virus, helping prevent misinformation and reducing rumours and panic. We know from past outbreaks that fear and mistrust contribute to the spread of disease and hampers all response efforts. We need solidarity, not stigma, to support communities and people affected by this outbreak.”

This most recent coronavirus disease is the seventh in the coronavirus family known to infect humans. Illnesses caused by coronaviruses range from less severe illness like the common cold, to serious illnesses like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). As of 11 February, the number of confirmed cases globally is over 43,000, with more than 1,000 deaths, almost all in mainland China.

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