Global Times US Edition

WHO chief calls COVID-19 ‘en­emy against hu­man­ity’

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The head of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion on Wed­nes­day called the new coro­n­avirus an “en­emy against hu­man­ity,” as the num­ber of peo­ple in­fected by the pan­demic soar past 200,000.

World­wide fa­tal­i­ties topped 8,000 and more deaths have now been recorded in Europe, the new vi­ral epi­cen­ter, than in Asia since the out­break be­gan. “This coro­n­avirus is pre­sent­ing us with an un­prece­dented threat,” Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus told jour­nal­ists in a vir­tual news con­fer­ence. He stressed the need for coun­tries everywhere to “come to­gether as one against a com­mon en­emy: an en­emy against hu­man­ity.”

Sub-sa­ha­ran Africa has only recorded 233 cases and four deaths, mak­ing it the least af­fected re­gion. But Te­dros warned the sit­u­a­tion could quickly shift. “In other coun­tries, we have seen how the virus ac­tu­ally ac­cel­er­ates af­ter a cer­tain tip­ping point, so the best ad­vice for Africa is to pre­pare for the worst, and pre­pare to­day,” he said. “Africa should wake up,” he said. Te­dros said the WHO was speak­ing daily with de­ci­sion-mak­ers world­wide “to help them pre­pare and pri­or­i­tize.” “Don’t as­sume your com­mu­nity won’t be af­fected. Pre­pare as if it will be,” he said. The WHO has called for ev­ery sin­gle sus­pected case to be tested.

In coun­tries where that was not pos­si­ble due to soar­ing num­bers of in­fec­tions, Te­dros in­sisted there were mea­sures to re­duce the bur­den on health­care sys­tems and make epi­demics more “man­age­able.”

He urged states to in­tro­duce phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing mea­sures, in­clud­ing can­cel­ing sport­ing events, con­certs and other large gath­er­ings, to slow down trans­mis­sion. But Te­dros added that the only way to sup­press and con­trol epi­demics of the virus was for coun­tries to “iso­late, test, treat and trace.”

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