Source: United Nations 2
Countries must “double-down” on their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, the UN health agency said on Wednesday, after announcing that the global emergency can now be described as a pandemic.
“It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” he said, urging Governments to pursue containment and isolation measures to prevent the virus from spreading.
Three-fold rise in countries affected
Latest data indicates more than 118,000 cases of infection in 114 countries, and 4,291 deaths – a 13-fold increase outside China in the past two weeks, and a threefold rise in the number of affected countries.
With thousands more “fighting for their lives” in hospitals, Tedros noted that the toll was likely to climb in coming days and weeks.
Despite this bleak forecast, the WHO Director-General pointed out the vast majority of countries were still relatively untouched by COVID-19, which first surfaced in central China last December.
Around 90 per cent of cases were in just four countries and China and South Korea had seen “significantly declining” numbers of cases, he added.
81 nations still with no reported cases
In addition, 81 countries have not reported any cases “so they should do everything to not import cases”.
Another 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less, the WHO top official said, “so they can cut it from the bud”.
Briefing journalists at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Tedros insisted that it would be “a mistake” for countries to abandon efforts to contain the virus.
“The best way forward is the blended comprehensive approach which puts containment as a major pillar,” he said, noting that some countries were “struggling with a lack of resources”, while others were battling with their resolve.
For many countries, tackling the virus involved making enormous sacrifices, Tedros added, before underscoring his gratitude to Iran “and others for taking measures which are taking a heavy toll on societies and economies.