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‘Long, hard road ahead’ for countries taking piecemeal approach to COVID

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that some nations battling the COVID-19 pandemic who have been taking a “fragmented approach” to suppressing the deadly virus, “face a long, hard road ahead.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the regular coronavirus press briefing at WHO headquarters in Geneva, that “flare-ups are to be expected as countries start to lift restrictions.”

But he noted that countries with “systems in place to apply a comprehensive approach, should be able to contain these flare-ups locally, and avoid reintroducing widespread restrictions.”

‘It’s never too late’

However, he continued, “we are concerned that some countries have not used all the tools at their disposal and have taken a fragmented approach. These countries face a long, hard road ahead.

“But one of the lessons of the pandemic is that no matter what situation a country is in, it can be turned around”, he added, injecting a note of optimism for countries such as the United States which has seen cases rise steeply in Texas, Florida and Arizona in recent days.

“It’s never too late.”

More than half a million deaths

More than 10.3 million cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, and over 506,000 deaths. For the past week, the number of new cases has exceeded 160,000 on every single day, the WHO chief said, adding the chilling perspective that 60% of all cases so far across the world, have been reported just in the past month.

“We will never get tired of saying that the best way out of this pandemic is to take a comprehensive approach”, Tedros added.

“Find, isolate, test and care for every case, trace and quarantine every contact, equip and train health workers and educate and empower communities to protect themselves and others.

“Not testing alone. Not physical distancing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not masks alone. Do it all.”

In March, Italy and Spain were the epicenter of the pandemic, but both “brought their epidemics under control with a combination of leadership, humility, active participation by every member of society, and implementing a comprehensive approach”, said Tedros.

“The fastest way out of this pandemic is to follow the science and do what we know works: the comprehensive approach.”

Forum for over 1,000 top scientists

WHO convened its second research and innovation forum on Wednesday, bringing together more than 1,000 scientists from all over the world to take stock of the progress made so far, discuss new research questions and knowledge gaps, and to define research priorities, going forward.

Research and innovation have played a vital role since the beginning of the pandemic – and even before, said the WHO chief: “We have a shared responsibility to ensure that all people have access to the tools to protect themselves, especially those who are most at risk.”

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