New Delhi: The head of the World Health Organisation has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is not even close to being over.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that six months after China first alerted the WHO to a novel respiratory infection, the grim milestones of 10 million confirmed infections and 500,000 deaths had been reached.
“Most people remain susceptible, the virus still has a lot of room to move,” he said.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
The head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, told the briefing that tremendous progress had been made towards finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection, but there was still no guarantee the effort would succeed.
In the meantime, countries could fight the spread of the disease by testing, isolating confirmed cases, and tracking their contacts, he said. He singled out Japan, South Korea, and Germany for their “comprehensive, sustained strategy” against the virus.
The WHO plans to convene a meeting this week to assess progress in research towards fighting the disease, Tedros said.
WHO to send a team to China
The World Health Organization warned that in an atmosphere of global division and politicization of the COVID-19 crisis, it feared the worst was yet to come. The UN health agency lamented the “very tragic” milestones of 500,000 deaths and 10 million confirmed infections being reached, just as it marks on Tuesday six months since it was first informed of the outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The WHO is sending a team to China next week in connection with the search for the origin of the virus that sparked the global pandemic. The organisation has been pressing China since early May to invite in its experts to help investigate the animal origins of the coronavirus. “We can fight the virus better when we know everything about the virus, including how it started,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference. “We will be sending a team next week to China to prepare for that and we hope that that will lead into understanding how the virus started.”
(With inputs from agencies)