“Over the past five weeks, we have witnessed an almost exponential growth in the number of new cases, reaching almost all countries, territories and areas,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday. ” a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva.
The world knew almost nothing about the virus three months ago, when reports of a new coronavirus began to surface in Wuhan, China. Tedros pointed out how much scientists still don’t know about the virus, saying it is the first pandemic in the world caused by a coronavirus “and the behavior of which is not really known”. Scientists have traced the coronavirus back to bat DNA, saying it probably jumped from there to a pangolin before jumping to humans.
The last time WHO declared a pandemic was during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu epidemic. The 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, which is also a coronavirus, was sufficiently contained to avoid this classification .
“COVID-19 is a real threat. This is a real threat to everyone on the planet, “said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical manager for the outbreak.
WHO officials said on Monday that government blockages were not enough to contain the coronavirus epidemic. However, they are necessary, despite their impact on the economy and society, they said. Without them, the coronavirus would kill even more people.
” It’s serious. It is a deadly virus, people will pass it, countries will pass it, “said Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.
World leaders must put their public health systems in place “if we are to get out of an endless cycle of economic sanctions and closures,” said Ryan. “We have to come back to be able to control this virus, live with this virus, develop the vaccines we need to finally eradicate this virus. “
Ryan said it was too early for anyone to determine the impact of the stop or lockout measures on the transmission of the disease at this stage. Each country should focus on adapting coherent policies and adapting its disease strategies, and then measuring its effectiveness in eradicating the infection. “I would love to say there is an easy way to do it, I would love to say there is a way to get by without this kind of hard work, but there is none. Said Ryan.
Worldwide, the coronavirus has infected more than 885,000 people and killed at least 44,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.