Worst of pan­demic yet to come glob­ally, cau­tions WHO chief

Te­dros urges coun­tries to test, track down so­cial con­tacts, iso­late and quar­an­tine

Gulf Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Six months since the new coro­n­avirus out­break, the pan­demic is still far from over, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) said yes­ter­day, warn­ing that “the worst is yet to come”.

Reach­ing the half-year mile­stone just as the death toll sur­passed 500,000 and the num­ber of con­firmed in­fec­tions topped 10mn, the WHO said it was a mo­ment to recom­mit to the fight to save lives.

“Six months ago, none of us could have imag­ined how our world — and our lives — would be thrown into tur­moil by this new virus,” WHO chief Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus told a vir­tual brief­ing.

“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.

“Al­though many coun­tries have made some progress, glob­ally the pan­demic is ac­tu­ally speed­ing up.

“We’re all in this to­gether, and we’re all in this for the long haul. We will need even greater stores of re­silience, pa­tience, hu­mil­ity and gen­eros­ity in the months ahead. We have al­ready lost so much — but we can­not lose hope.”

Te­dros also said that the pan­demic had brought out the best and worst hu­man­ity, cit­ing acts of kind­ness and sol­i­dar­ity, but also mis­in­for­ma­tion and the politi­ci­sa­tion of the virus.

In an at­mos­phere of global political division and frac­tures on a na­tional level, “the worst is yet to come. I’m sorry to say that,” he said.

“With this kind of en­vi­ron­ment and con­di­tion, we fear the worst.”

The cur­rent level of the ac­cel­er­at­ing pan­demic did not come by ac­ci­dent, he said, mark­ing six months since the WHO learned about the orig­i­nal out­break in Wuhan, China.

“This could have been pre­vented through the tools we have at hand,” Te­dros said, urg­ing coun­tries to test, track down so­cial con­tacts, iso­late and quar­an­tine.

In ad­di­tion, lack of unity within coun­tries and lack of sol­i­dar­ity be­tween na­tions also al­lowed the virus to spread, he charged.

Un­less this political problem is ad­dressed, “the worst is yet to come,” he said, adding “that’s why we have to bring our acts to­gether and fight this dan­ger­ous virus to­gether.”

Work­ers con­vert the Ko­ra­man­gala in­door sta­dium into a Covid-19 coro­n­avirus care cen­tre with over 250 beds, in Ban­ga­lore, In­dia, yes­ter­day.

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