Pointing out that the spread of coronavirus virus has not slowed down, the World Health Organisation said that it was not late to turn the outbreak around.
“This week we’ll reach 20 million registered cases of COVID-19 and 750,000 deaths. But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope and no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it’s never too late to turn the outbreak around, “WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, August 10.
Stating that two essential elements are needed to address the pandemic effectively, he said that first of all leaders must step up to take action and secondly citizens need to embrace new measures.
He also referred to countries in the Mekong Region, New Zealand, Rwanda, and several island states across the Caribbean and the Pacific as able to suppress the virus early. “New Zealand is seen as a global exemplar and over the weekend Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern celebrated 100 days with no community transmission, while stressing the need to remain cautious,” he said.
“Rwanda’s progress is due to a similar combination of strong leadership, universal health coverage, well-supported health workers and clear public health communications. All testing and treatment for COVID-19 is free in Rwanda, so there are no financial barriers to people getting tested. And when people test positive for the virus, they’re isolated and health workers then visit every potential contact and test them also,” the WHO Chief said.
Tedros said that getting the basics right provided a clear picture of where the virus was and the necessary targeted actions to suppress transmission and save lives. This means that where there are cases, the government can quickly implement targeted measures and focus control efforts where they are needed most, he added.
He said that countries such as France, the Republic of Korea, Germany, Spain, the UK and Italy had major outbreaks but was able to suppress it when they took action.
Noting that several countries were now using all tools at their disposal to tackle any new spikes, he mentioned that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put areas of northern England under stay at home notifications, as clusters of cases were identified. In France, President Macron introduced compulsory masking in busy outdoor spaces of Paris in response to an increase in cases. “Strong and precise measures like these, in combination with utilising every tool at our disposal are key to preventing any resurgence in disease and allowing societies to be reopened safely,” the WHO Chief said.
He stressed that transmission in countries where it is intense could be brought under control by applying an “all of government, all of society response.”
“Chains of transmission have been broken by combination of rapid case identification, comprehensive contact tracing, adequate clinical care for patients, physical distancing, mask wearing, regular cleaning of hands and coughing away from others. Whether countries or regions have successfully eliminated the virus, suppressed transmission to a low level, or are still in the midst of a major outbreak; now is the time to do it all, invest in the basics of public health and we can save both lives and livelihoods,” he said.
“We all want to see schools safely reopened but we also need to ensure that students, staff and faculty are safe. The foundation for this is adequate control of transmission at the community,’ he said.
With respect to ACT Accelerator as the fastest and most effective way to help the countries, he said that the ACT Accelerator has already harnessed the international public health ecosystem in a unique way of working, with early proof of its potential. “The accelerator supported vaccines are in Phase 2/3 trials. A Global Vaccines Facility is engaging over 160 countries. The first therapy for severe COVID – dexamethasone – is in scale-up. Dozens of other promising therapies are under analysis. Over 50 diagnostics are in evaluation, including potentially game-changing rapid antigen tests. And a comprehensive framework for allocating these scarce tools for greatest global impact, is under consultation,” he said.