Don’t squander second chance on coronavirus: WHO

by Caribbean Chronicle
12:05 am UTC, March 27, 2020

Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2020. 5:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The world squandered it’s first opportunity to stamp out COVID-19, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. It must not squander a second.

At a briefing Wednesday, Dr. Ghebreyesus said a majority, 150, of countries worldwide still have fewer than 100 reported cases and those which have implemented lockdowns must take aggressive action during them to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While such strict regimes impose harsh social and economic costs, “the last thing any country needs is to reopen schools and businesses only to close them again because of a resurgence in cases,” Tedros said.

He warned, therefore, that governments should stop wasting precious time needed to fight the coronavirus after squandering the original opportunity.

“The world is not ready for a pandemic,” Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies section said, though he added that the agency generally avoids public criticism of its member states.

For example, breaks in the supply chain could threaten supplies of medical gloves, which are made from rubber that’s sourced from only a few countries.

Health-care workers are facing shortages of protective gear across the world, said Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist at the WHO. People who aren’t sick don’t need masks, she has said, and doctors shouldn’t be deprived of them because of the way a country uses them.

“This is not acceptable,” she said. “Protecting our health-care workers must be the top priority.”

“If there’s any lesson from this pandemic, it’s that we need stronger public health systems,” on a national and global level, Ryan said.

Dr. Ghebreyesus gave a list of six actions every country should take: Expand, train and deploy health-care workers; Implement systems to find suspected cases; Ramp up production of tests and increase availability; Identify facilities that can be transformed into coronavirus health centers; Develop plans to quarantine cases; and Refocus government on suppressing the virus.

The disease has killed almost 20,000 people and is present in almost every country.

WHO sub-regional agency the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is assisting Belize, which has two confirmed cases, with acquiring test kits and needed personal protective equipment for health care professionals.

Source: Breaking Belize News.