The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged all countries to use the “second window of opportunity” to suppress and stop the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
This window of opportunity was created by those countries and regions which introduced unprecedented “lockdown” measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted at a daily briefing, reminding that these measures will not extinguish epidemics on their own.
“Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time and reducing the pressure on health systems, but on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics. The point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives. We call on all countries who have introduced so-called lockdown measures to use this time to attack the virus,” he said.
Tedros recommended six key actions to enable the more precise and targeted measures.
Specifically, he called on countries to expand, train and deploy health care and public health workforce, implement a system to find every suspected case at community level, and ramp up the production, capacity, and availability of testing equipment.
He also suggested identifying, adapting and equipping facilities for treating and isolating patients, developing a clear plan and process to quarantine contacts, as well as refocusing the whole of government on suppressing and controlling COVID-19.
“We have been saying for more than two months now this virus is public enemy number one. It’s a dangerous virus, and we have been saying to the world that the window of opportunity is narrowing and the time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago. But we still believe that there is an opportunity. I think we squandered the first window of opportunity but we are saying today my message, I made it clear that this is a second opportunity which we should not squander,” said Tedros.
The WHO situation dashboard showed a total of 416,686 cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide as of 18:00 CET (1700 GMT) Wednesday, as the virus spread to 196 countries and regions.
The global death toll from COVID-19 has climbed to 18,589.
Outside China, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 334,817, among which over 190,000 cases were reported by the four most affected countries with over 30,000 cases each — Italy, the United States, Spain, and Germany. (Reuters)