The World Health Organization has confirmed a leaked internal email stating that 65 of their headquarters staff in Geneva, Switzerland have caught coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.
While just over half of the confirmed cases are among staff members working from home, a cluster of 32 staff members still working in person at the organization’s headquarters came down with the virus, despite the organization’s strict protocols to control and prevent the spread of the virus on its premises.
The email, originating from WHO Assistant Director-General of Business Operations Raul Thomas, wrote that five people who had close contact with each other at the headquarters had tested positive for coronavirus.
The email also stated that 49 of the 65 cases occurred in the past eight weeks, despite Thomas having claimed less than five weeks ago that there have been no cases of the virus among staff at their headquarters.
WHO spokeswoman Farah Dakhlallah confirmed the outbreak, stating that they “have not yet established whether transmission occurred on campus, but are looking into the matter.”
Among those who contracted the virus are an infection control specialist who is also part of the WHO’s senior management.
The leaked email also said that the WHO would be taking further measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their headquarters, despite the fact that the organization placed stricter limits on access to their headquarters just last month.
“Finally, members of the workforce are reminded that physical meetings, including gatherings in common areas or in the cafeteria, are strongly discouraged and should only take place where absolutely necessary,” the email further warned.