On April 22, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time and can easily ignite,” in a virtual press conference as the global death toll crossed the 160,000 mark. Almost 2.5 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported to the organization worldwide.
Most countries are still in the early stages of the pandemic while some that were affected early are now starting to see a resurgence in cases. “Most epidemics in Europe appear to be stable or declining, although numbers are low we see worrying upward trends in Africa, Central, and South America and Central Europe,” the WHO DG said. He warned that there are still many gaps in the world’s defenses against the virus and that no single country has everything in place.
According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stay-at-home orders and other physical distancing measures have undoubtedly been successful in suppressing the transmission of the virus in many countries. He, however, empathized with people being frustrated at being confined for weeks as they want to get on with their lives, because their lives and livelihoods are at stake. “One of the greatest dangers we face now is complacency”, he added.
“But the world will not and cannot go back to the way things were.” Tedros said as he emphasized the need for a ‘new normal’ — a world that is healthier, safer, and better prepared.
Clearing the questions being raised on WHO’s inefficiency in handling the situation, Tedros enunciated that the organization had declared the international emergency at the ‘right time’ when there were only 82 cases outside of China and no deaths and the rest of the world had enough time to respond.
The Director-General said that a large proportion of the population remains susceptible which means epidemics can easily re-ignite.
Ghebreyesus said that the same public health measures the WHO has been advocating since the inception of the pandemic must remain the backbone of the response in all the countries — Find every case; Isolate every case; Test every case; Care for every case; Trace and quarantine every contact.