World, Europe

Europe shows virus control, America still epicenter:WHO

WHO director-general warns governments against issuing mixed messages in fighting COVID-19

Peter Kenny   | 13.07.2020
Europe shows virus control, America still epicenter:WHO

GENEVA 

Many European countries and elsewhere have shown that large COVID-19 outbreaks can be controlled, while the Americas with more than 50% of cases, remains the global epicenter, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief said Monday.

Speaking at a thrice-weekly webinar, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said all countries are at risk of the virus and that many nations are losing gains.

Not all countries have been affected the same way, Tedros noted, while warning government leaders against issuing mixed messages.

He added: "If the basics aren't followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go. It's going to get worse and worse and worse."

Tedros also said that on Sunday, 230,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide to the WHO, and almost 80% of those infections were reported from just 10 countries, and 50% come from only two nations.

"Although the number of daily deaths remains relatively stable, there is a lot to be concerned about", the WHO chief stressed.

Countries in Europe and elsewhere have demonstrated that it is possible to bring large outbreaks under control, and leaders there are opening up their societies, Tedros said.

They are doing this "on a data-driven, step-by-step basis, with a comprehensive public health approach, backed by a strong health workforce and community buy-in," he added.

He said that, however, there are also signs of dangerous rises in cases in several countries, and hospital wards filling up again,

Although he did not refer to any specific country, the US-based Johns Hopkins University has reported 61,352 new cases and 685 further virus-related deaths in the US on Saturday -- serious rises both in infections and fatalities.

"It would appear that many countries are losing gains made as proven measures to reduce risk are not implemented or followed.

"We see this across the Americas, South Asia, and several countries in Africa," said Tedros.

He noted that the epicenter of the virus remains in the Americas, where more than 50% of the world's cases have been recorded.

"Let me blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction," said Tedros.

The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments do not reflect this.

"The only aim of the virus is to find people to infect.

"Mixed messages from leaders are undermining the most critical ingredient of any response: trust," said the WHO chief, adding that the governments need to clearly communicate with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives.

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 570,300 lives in 188 countries and regions since it originated in China last December.

Nearly 13 million COVID-19 cases have been reported around the world so far, with recoveries exceeding 7.15 million, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.

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