THE World Health Organization has warned that the new coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic is clearly “accelerating,” but at the same time expressing that it is still possible to change its trajectory by going on the attack.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the remark as the number of deaths soared past 15,000, with more than 341,000 people infected worldwide, according to a tally compiled by AFP from official sources.
“The pandemic is accelerating,” he said in a virtual news conference.
Tedros said it took 67 days from the beginning of the outbreak in China in December for the virus to infect the first 100,000 people worldwide but in comparison, it took 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.
The WHO chief also noted that the number of officially recorded cases is believed to represent only a fraction of the true number of infections, with many countries only testing the most severe cases in need of hospitalisation.
“We are not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic,” he said.
Tedros compared the fight against COVID-19 to football tactics, saying that in order to win in football, one must attack and not just defend.
He also said physical distancing could buy time by slowing down the spread, but warned that it is not a defensive measure that will help us.
“To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics,” the WHO chief said, reiterating a call for “testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case and tracing and quarantining every close contact.”
Despite wanting to go on the attack, Tedros acknowledged that a number of countries were struggling to take more aggressive measures due to a lack of resources and access to tests.
Tedros praised the great energy being put into research and development to find a vaccine and of drugs to treat COVID-19.
But he said that there is currently no treatment that has been proven to be effective against COVID-19, and warned against the use of drugs not shown to work against the disease.
“Using untested medicines without the right evidence could raise false hope and even do more harm than good,” the WHO top official said.
Tedros also noted that there were “alarming” reports of large numbers of infections among health workers.
“Protecting them from the virus should be a top priority because otherwise many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their lives is sick,” he said.