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Published On: Mon, Jul 13th, 2020

COVID-19 crisis may worsen if nations don’t adhere precautions: WHO

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Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference launching his candidacy to the post of Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), on the sidelines of the WHO's annual assembly, on May 24, 2016, in Geneva. Delegates from 194 member-states gather for the second day of the WHO's annual assembly, with the UN agency's chief Margaret Chan warning in an opening address that the world was not prepared to cope with a rising threat from infectious diseases. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI : The raging corona virus COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to worsen further if all nations do not adhere to basic healthcare precautions, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday.
“Let me blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction. The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this,” the WHO asserted.
“If governments do not clearly communicate with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives; If populations do not follow the basic public health principles of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, coughing etiquette and staying at home when sick; If the basics aren’t followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse,” added Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
While it’s too soon to assess the full impact of COVID-19, the report estimates that 130 million more people may face chronic hunger by the end of this year. There are no shortcuts out of this pandemic. We all hope there will be an effective vaccine, but we need to focus on using the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives.”
He further added, “It does not have to be this way. Every single leader, every single government and every single person can do their bit to break chains of transmission and end the collective suffering.
“Mixed messages from leaders are undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust, if governments do not clearly communicate with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives – it’s going to get worse and worse and worse,” he said.
The death toll in the United States has climbed to over 135,200 with Brazil recording over 72,000 fatalities. Both President Trump and Brazil President Bolsanoro have been slow to respond to the virus often dismissing the virus as a threat.

Trump has often said the virus will one just “disappear” even has Bolosanro had called it a “little flu” in April as the virus took hold over the country. “We weren’t prepared collectively, but we must use all the tools we have to bring this pandemic under control and we need to do it right now,” Director-General Tedros said.
“Together, we must accelerate the science as quickly as possible, find joint solutions to COVID-19 and through solidarity build a cohesive global response.”
The only aim of the virus is to find people to infect. Mixed messages from leaders are undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust, Tedros told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
“If governments do not clearly communicate with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives; If populations do not follow the basic public health principles of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, coughing etiquette and staying at home when sick; If the basics aren’t followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse,” added Tedros.
Infections rose to 12,945,828 across the world on Monday, climbing by one million in just five days in a pandemic that has killed more than half a million people.
He said that all countries are at risk of the virus, as you know, but not all countries have been affected in the same way. “There are roughly four situations playing out across the world at the moment. The first situation is countries that were alert and aware – they prepared and responded rapidly and effectively to the first cases.”
“As a result, they have so far avoided large outbreaks. Several countries in the Mekong region, the Pacific, the Caribbean and Africa fit into that category. Leaders of those countries took command of the emergency and communicated effectively with their populations about the measures that had to be taken.

They pursued a comprehensive strategy to find, isolate, test and care for cases, and to trace and quarantine contacts, and were able to suppress the virus,” he added.
“The second situation is countries in which there was a major outbreak that was brought under control through a combination of strong leadership and populations adhering to key public health measures. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have demonstrated that it is possible to bring large outbreaks under control,” he also added.
“In both of these first two situations, where countries have effectively suppressed the virus, leaders are opening up their societies on a data-driven, step-by-step basis, with a comprehensive public health approach, backed by a strong health workforce and community buy-in,” he further added.

“The third situation we’re seeing is countries that overcame the first peak of the outbreak, but having eased restrictions, are now struggling with new peaks and accelerating cases.

In several countries across the world, we are now seeing dangerous increases in cases, and hospital wards filling up again. It would appear that many countries are losing gains made as proven measures to reduce risk are not implemented or followed,” Tedros also said.
“The fourth situation is those countries that are in the intense transmission phase of their outbreak. We’re seeing this across the Americas, South Asia, and several countries in Africa.

The epicentre of the virus remains in the Americas, where more than 50% of the world’s cases have been recorded. But we know from the first two situations that it’s never too late to bring the virus under control, even if there’s been explosive transmission,” Tedros also added.
“In some cities and regions where transmission is intense, severe restrictions have been reinstated to bring the outbreak under control.
Tedros said, “I want to be straight with you: there will be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future. But there is a road map to a situation where we can control the disease and get on with our lives.
But this is going to require three things: First, a focus on reducing mortality and suppressing transmission. Second, an empowered, engaged community that takes individual behaviour measures in the interest of each other. And third, we need strong government leadership and coordination of comprehensive strategies that are communicated clearly and consistently.”

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