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WHO chief self-isolates after contact tests positive for COVID-19

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The head of the World Health Organization says he will self-quarantine after being identified as a contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter late Sunday that he is “well and without symptoms” but will self-quarantine in “coming days, in line with WHO protocols, and work from home.”

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On Monday, the U.N. health agency’s sought to dispel misinformation about Tedros’ self-isolation, writing on Twitter that “contrary to some incorrect reports,” he has not tested positive himself.

The WHO director-general has been at the forefront of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected at least 46.5 million people and led to more than 1.2 million deaths, according to a count of confirmed cases by Johns Hopkins University.

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The tweet did not identify who among his contacts had been infected. The U.N. health agency is based in Geneva, where cases are increasing and where tighter restrictions were announced Sunday aimed to curb the spread of the virus. More than 1,000 new cases have been recorded each day recently in an area of about 500,000 people.

 

In what have become twice-weekly WHO news conferences, Tedros and other leaders of the health agency have generally opted not to wear protective masks, insisting that they have taken other precautions such as physical distancing and ensuring good air circulation in the vast conference room where the briefings take place.

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Officials at WHO Europe in Copenhagen, however, regularly wear masks during their weekly news conferences in an effort to send a signal to viewers about precautions to take.