The WHO chief said today there are “green shoots of hope” in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as the world approaches 20 million cases.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “never too late to reverse the epidemic” as he urged countries to “remove, suppress, suppress” the disease so that society can be reopened.
In rare international praise for Britain’s handling of the crisis, Tedros hailed Boris Johnson for ordering parts of northern England to retreat after a spike in infections last month.
Tedros also praised New Zealand for eliminating community transmission and mentioned the UK, Germany and France as countries that “were able to suppress” the virus by taking action – despite a worrying increase in cases in three.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (pictured) said today there were ‘green shoots of hope’ in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic
Speaking at a press conference today, Tedros said countries, including Britain and France, “are now using every tool at their disposal to tackle any new peak.”
“Over the past few days, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has subjected areas of northern England to stay-at-home notifications as clusters of cases have been identified,” he said.
In France, President Macron introduced mandatory masking in busy outdoor spaces in Paris in response to an increase in cases.
“Strong and precise measures like these, coupled with the use of all the tools at our disposal, are essential to prevent any resurgence of the disease and allow companies to reopen safely.
“Even in countries where transmission is intense, it can be brought under control with a whole-of-government, whole-of-society response.
“The chains of transmission have been broken by a combination of rapid case identification, comprehensive contact tracing, adequate clinical care for patients, physical distancing, wearing a mask, regular hand cleaning and coughing away. others.
“Have countries or regions succeeded in eliminating the virus, reducing transmission to a low level, or still being in the midst of a major epidemic?” Now is the time to do it all, invest in the basics of public health and we can save both lives and livelihoods ”.
The lockdown in northern England has sparked controversy after it was abruptly imposed on the eve of Eid al-Adha in an area with a large Muslim population.
The government has been criticized for its lack of clarity on the new rules, which were announced just hours before they went into effect.
Britain yesterday recorded more than 1,000 new cases in one day for the first time in June, while Germany and France also recorded alarming spikes in cases.
Italy has also seen a higher number of infections in recent days after recovering from the first major viral outbreak in Europe in February and March.
WHO chief Tedros praised Boris Johnson (pictured today) for taking ‘strong and specific action’ to lock down parts of northern England
Rising cases: Spain has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, as this graph shows, while France, Germany and Italy have also seen a rise in new infections
In Britain, No 10 is also pushing to reopen schools for the fall term, but Tedros warned countries “must remain vigilant” when they do.
“We all want to see schools reopen safely, but we also need to make sure students, staff and faculty are safe. The basis for this is adequate control of transmission within the community, ”he said.
“My message is crystal clear: remove, remove, remove the virus. If we remove the virus effectively, we can open companies safely ”.
Discussing the global spread, he said: “This week we will reach 20 million recorded cases of COVID-19 and 750,000 deaths.
“Behind these statistics is a lot of pain and suffering. Every life lost counts. I know many of you are grieving and this is a difficult time for the world.
“But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope and it doesn’t matter where a country, region, city or town is – it’s never too late to reverse the epidemic.
There are two essential elements to effectively tackling the pandemic: leaders must mobilize to act and citizens must adopt new measures.
Tedros specifically praised New Zealand after marking 100 days without community transmission of the disease, saying the country was a “global model”.
Tedros praised New Zealand and its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) after the Pacific nation marked 100 days without community spread of the disease
The Pacific nation closed its borders when there were relatively few cases, allowing the company to almost completely reopen when domestic transmission was crushed.
New Zealand has only registered 1,569 cases and 22 deaths in total.
The WHO director general also praised Rwanda for its “strong leadership” and effective policies, including free testing, which have limited the spread of the disease.
Tedros also said more than $ 100 billion would be needed to distribute a vaccine against Covid-19 if and when it becomes available.
“It sounds like a lot of money and it is. But this is small compared to the $ 10 trillion that has already been invested by the G20 countries in fiscal stimulus to deal with the consequences of the pandemic so far, ”he said.
Scientists around the world are rushing to develop an effective vaccine, which is seen as the only sure way to stop the pandemic.
Advanced trials include a project based at the University of Oxford in partnership with drug giant AstraZeneca and partly funded by the UK government.
Some of the more advanced vaccine candidates are being tested in Brazil, which has racked up more than 100,000 deaths from the disease.
Researchers can get results faster by testing vaccines where active spread of the virus is endemic.