WHO chief says some countries on dangerous COVID path

Issuing warning, he says the next few months are going to be very tough, stressing countries should act to limit the virus spread quickly

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "We urge leaders to take immediate action, to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again." File photo: PTI

The world is now at a critical juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic and some countries are on a dangerous path, facing the prospect of health services collapsing under the strain, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

“We are at a critical juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, Reuters reported. “The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track.”

“We urge leaders to take immediate action, to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again. As I said it in February and I’m repeating it today: This is not a drill,” Ghebreyesus said.

Tedros said too many countries were now seeing an exponential increase in infections, “and that is now leading to hospitals and intensive care units running close or above capacity — and we’re still only in October”.

He said countries should take action to limit the spread of the virus quickly. Improving testing, tracing of contacts of those infected and isolation of those at risk of spreading the virus would enable countries to avoid mandatory lockdowns.

The WHO chief warning came as confirmed cases across the globe mounted to 41,570, 883 with 1,134,940 deaths.

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“I have a specific message for those countries that have successfully brought COVID-19 transmission under control: now is the time to double down to keep transmission at a low level, be vigilant, be ready to identify and cases and clusters and take quick action,” said Ghebreyesus. Do not allow the virus to take hold again.

“Second, for those countries where cases, hospitalizations and ICU rates are rising, make the necessary adjustments and course correct as quickly as possible. Making changes when needed shows leadership and strength,” said WHO chief.

“Third, it’s important to be clear and honest with the public about the status of the pandemic in your country and what is needed from every citizen to get through this pandemic together,” said Ghebreyesus.

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