WHO reiterates call for coronavirus patients not to take ibuprofen
A pharmacy worker stocks boxes of Paracetamol amid the outbreak of COVID-19, Sundbyberg, Monday, March 16, 2020. (AFP Photo)

People who suspect they have caught the novel coronavirus should not take the popular drug ibuprofen without consulting a doctor, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, pointing to ongoing research into possible negative effects.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a Geneva press conference that there are no recent studies that link the anti-inflammatory drug with increased mortality rates, but he added that experts are currently investigating the matter.

We recommend paracetamol, not ibuprofen for self-medicating, Lindmeier said.

The U.N. agency's comments came after leading French health officials warned against using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) against the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. This group of pharmaceuticals includes ibuprofen, aspirin and other drugs.

A recent article in the medical journal The Lancet put forward the hypothesis that some drugs, including ibuprofen, might pose a risk for COVID-19 patients who also suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes.

Lindmeier also reported that two WHO staff members have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease.

Several hundred WHO staffers started working remotely from home Tuesday.

The U.N. health agency no longer invites journalists to its premises to update them on the coronavirus pandemic but broadcasts its briefings on social media.