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Lack of political commitment in some countries to control coronavirus, says WHO

The director-general of the World Health Organisation was briefing on Covid-19.

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A woman with a cold blowing her nose with a tissue, in London.

A woman with a cold blowing her nose with a tissue, in London.

A woman with a cold blowing her nose with a tissue, in London.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is “deeply concerned” that some countries are not handling the coronavirus pandemic with “the level of political commitment needed to control it”.

The director-general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said describing the global Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic was not a decision that was taken lightly.

He said the world must “double down” and all countries must strike a balance in their approach to this “controllable pandemic”.

Referring to the WHO’s decision to describe the outbreak as a pandemic, he said: “We have made this assessment for two main reasons: First, because of the speed and scale of transmission.

“Almost 125,000 cases have now been reported to WHO, from 118 countries and territories.

“In the past two weeks, the number of cases reported outside China has increased almost 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has almost tripled.

“The second reason is that despite our frequent warnings, we are deeply concerned that some countries are not approaching this threat with the level of political commitment needed to control it.

“Let me be clear: Describing this as a pandemic does not mean that countries should give up. The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous.

“On the contrary, we have to double down. This is a controllable pandemic.

“Countries that decide to give up on fundamental public health measures may end up with a larger problem, and a heavier burden on the health system that requires more severe measures to control.

“All countries must strike a fine balance between protecting health, preventing economic and social disruption, and respecting human rights.

“We urge all countries to take a comprehensive approach tailored to their circumstances – with containment as the central pillar.”

PA