NEW DELHI : As cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday sought the World Economic Forum’s help to engage companies in containing the spread of the contagion.

“Earlier this week, I spoke to more than 200 CEOs about how they can protect their staff and customers, ensure business continuity and contribute to the response," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general, WHO.

The economic impact of the Covid-19 epidemic is apparent across sectors, and companies are grappling with its effect. The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry said as China is a major player in global trade, contributing about 13% to global merchandise exports, especially to the US, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Germany and India, the impact on global trade will impact global economic growth prospects.

The industry body said disruptions in global supply chains will not only hit China’s exports but also those of importing nations as they source raw material and intermediate goods from China and export finished products.

WHO has also been monitoring the potential risk of a disruption to medicine supplies due to the epidemic.

We encourage every country to review WHO’s disease commodity package for Covid-19 to ensure it has the supplies it needs, including protective equipment and medical devices. All of this requires the involvement of the private sector to ensure countries can access life-saving products," said Tedros.

WHO has also published an research and development road map on Saturday to study the novel coronavirus and develop a treatment. The key areas include the natural history of the virus, epidemiology, vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, clinical management, ethical considerations, social sciences and more.

“So far, WHO has received applications for review and approval of 40 diagnostic tests, 20 vaccines are in development and many clinical trials of therapeutics are underway," said Tedros. “Even as we test therapeutics, we need to ensure that supplies of those medicines are available should they prove effective."

As the number of confirmed cases have crossed the 100,000 mark, WHO said: “As cases increase, we are continuing to recommend that all countries make containment their highest priority."

According to the Johns Hopkins University’s live tracker of the disease, 107,353 people were affected as on Sunday, and 3,646 had died, mostly in China.

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