GENEVA, April 22, 2020: Make no mistake: we have a long way to go, said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This virus will be with us for a long time,” Dt Ghebreyesus said in his opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19.
Globally, almost 2.5 million cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, and more than 160,000 deaths. We see different trends in different regions, and even within regions, he said and remarked most of the epidemics in Western Europe appear to be stable or declining.
Although numbers are low, we see worrying upward trends in Africa, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe, he said.
Here are the other major points that the WHO DG made today:
Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics.
And some that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.
Make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time.
There’s no question that stay-at-home orders and other physical distancing measures have successfully suppressed transmission in many countries.
But this virus remains extremely dangerous.
Early evidence suggests most of the world’s population remains susceptible. That means epidemics can easily re-ignite.
One of the greatest dangers we face now is complacency. People in countries with stay-at-home orders are understandably frustrated with being confined to their homes for weeks on end.
People understandably want to get on with their lives, because their lives and livelihoods are at stake.
That’s what WHO wants too. And that’s what we are working for, all day, every day.
But the world will not and cannot go back to the way things were.
There must be a “new normal” – a world that is healthier, safer and better prepared.
The same public health measures we have been advocating since the beginning of the pandemic must remain the backbone of the response in all countries.
·Find every case;
·Isolate every case;
·Test every case;
·Care for every case;
·Trace and quarantine every contact;
And educate, engage and empower your people. The fight cannot be effective without empowering people and without the full participation of our people.
Countries that don’t do these six central things, and do them consistently, will see more cases, and more lives will be lost.
To be clear, WHO’s advice is to find and test every suspected case, not every person in a population.
WHO is committed to supporting all countries to save lives.
And we are also committed to human rights, and to fighting stigma and discrimination wherever we see it.
There are disturbing reports in many countries, in all regions, about discrimination related to COVID-19.
Stigma and discrimination are never acceptable anywhere at anytime, and must be fought in all countries.
As I have said many times, this is a time for solidarity, not stigma.
WHO is also working actively to address the impacts of the pandemic on mental health.
Working with mental health experts around the world, WHO has produced technical guidance for individuals and health workers, recognizing the enormous strain they’re under.
In addition, we’ve also developed a free children’s book about COVID-19 with partners from UNICEF, UNHCR, IFRC and UNESCO among others.
In less than two weeks, we received requests to translate the book into more than 100 languages, and the book is now being used among Rohingya children in Cox’s Bazaar, and children in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Greece and Nigeria.