6 months on, WHO chief says Covid-19 is far from over

GENEVA – The World Health Organization chief warned on Monday that the Covid-19 crisis is “far from over” and the worst has yet to come with 10 million cases now, and half a million deaths, saying that a divided world “is helping the virus to spread”.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Anadolu photo)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the organization’s thrice-weekly press webinar that countries must address the problems the organization has identified, or there will be worse ones to face.

“The virus still has a lot of room to move. We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is, this is not even close to being over,” he said.

Tedros was speaking after six months of the world experiencing the novel coronavirus after it was first discovered in China.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world – and our lives – would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus. The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of humanity,” said Tedros.

Pandemic ‘speeding up’

For six months, the WHO and its partners have worked to support all countries in responding to the virus.

Tedros said that although many countries have made some progress globally, “the pandemic is speeding up.”

The world has seen “heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity, and kindness,” he said, but it had also witnessed “concerning signs of stigma, misinformation, and the politicization of the pandemic.”

The WHO chief said that although a vaccine will be an essential long-term tool for controlling Covid-19, there are priorities that every country must focus on how to save lives now.

These include empowering communities to understand that they are not helpless and that there are things everyone should do to protect themselves and others.

“That includes physical distancing, hand hygiene, covering coughs, staying home if you feel sick, wearing masks when appropriate, and only sharing information from reliable sources,” Tedros said.

Tedros said that unless countries address the problems the organization has already identified, he said a “lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity” in a “divided world” is “actually helping the virus to spread.”

Respect needed

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director of emergencies, said that the organization wants to have “international discourse that’s based on mutual respect.”

He said: “We encourage all people at all levels and in all countries to use language that is appropriately respectful, and there’s nothing associated with any connotations that are that are negative.”

Ryan added: “Everyone has a job. We can do better than we’re doing right now. We have a lot of vulnerable people to protect and shield.

“We have a lot of communities with poor health systems and poor living conditions that we need to support. And we need to focus on that,” he said, in an apparent reference to the growth of the virus in parts of Africa and Latin America. (Anadolu)