Calling coronavirus threat as an ‘enemy against humanity’, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief said that it is an unprecedented opportunity to come together as one against a common enemy. During a press briefing on March 18, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that many countries now face escalating epidemics and are feeling overwhelmed.
“We know the tremendous difficulties you face and the enormous burden you’re under. We understand the heart-wrenching choices you are having to make,” said Ghebreyesus.
The WHO chief emphasised the need for physical distancing measures like cancelling sporting events, concerts and other large gatherings and said that it can help to slow transmission of the virus. Such measures can reduce the burden on the health system and they can help to make epidemics manageable, allowing targeted and focused measures, he added.
“But to suppress and control epidemics, countries must isolate, test, treat and trace. If they don’t, transmission chains can continue at a low level, then resurge once physical distancing measures are lifted,” said Ghebreyesus.
The WHO chief recommended to isolate, test and treat every suspected case, and trace every contact, making it the backbone of the response in every country. He said that many countries are listening to our call and finding solutions to increase their ability to implement the full package of measures that have turned the tide in several countries.
“But we know that some countries are experiencing intense epidemics with extensive community transmission. We understand the effort required to suppress transmission in these situations. But it can be done,” he added.
Ghebreyesus highlighted the first vaccine trial just 60 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was shared by China. Calling it an incredible achievement, he commended the researchers around the world who have come together to systemically evaluate experimental therapeutics.
“The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund has now raised more than US$43 million from more than 173,000 individuals and organizations, a few days since we launched it,” said the WHO chief.