India has tremendous capacity to eradicate COVID-19: WHO official

The executive director of WHO said India led the world in eradicating small-pox and polio

The executive director of the World Health Organisation Michael Ryan said, "Every single one of those steps is fraught with challenges." Photo: PTI

India, which led the world in eradicating two silent killers — smallpox and polio — in the past, has a tremendous capacity in eradicating the deadly coronoavirus pandemic that has now claimed nearly 15,000 lives globally, according to a top WHO official.

The executive director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Michael Ryan, said that India, the world’s second most populous country, has a tremendous capacity to deal with the coronavirus outbreak as it has the experience of eradicating the small-pox and polio through targeted public intervention.

“India has tremendous capacities. India led the world in eradicating two silent killers – small-pox and polio,” he said during a press conference in Geneva on Monday (March 23) on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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India, through targeted public intervention, ended smallpox and gave a great gift to the world. India also eradicated polio, he noted.

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“There are no easy answers. It is exceptionally important that countries like India show the way to the world as they have done before,” he said.

His remarks came as the WHO said the number of deaths soared to 14,652, with more than 3,34,000 people infected worldwide.

India has reported 492 cases of coronavirus and nine deaths, according to the health ministry’s data on Tuesday (March 24). The total number of active COVID-19 cases across the country now stands at 446, after over 22 fresh cases were reported, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday warned that the coronavirus pandemic was clearly “accelerating” but said it was still possible to “change the trajectory” of the outbreak.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just 4 days for the third 100,000 cases,” Tedros told journalists in a virtual news briefing.

“These numbers matter, these are people, whose lives and families have been turned upside down,” Tedros tweeted later.

“We are not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic,” Tedros added.

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