- 91% of the countries have laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19: WHO
- 66% countries have clinical referral system for COVID-19 patients: WHO
- Only 48% countries have a community engagement plan: WHO
New Delhi: “Make no mistake: we have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a media briefing on Wednesday (April 22). Dr Tedros noted that different trends of the novel coronavirus are being seen in different regions, and even within regions as well. “Most of the epidemics in Western Europe appear to be stable or declining. Although numbers are low, we see worrying upward trends in Africa, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe”, he said.
Dr Tedros also noted that while most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics, some that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases.
Having said that, Dr Tedros agreed to the fact that lockdown has resulted in flattening the curve and said,
There’s no question that stay-at-home orders and other physical distancing measures have successfully suppressed transmission in many countries. But this virus remains extremely dangerous.
Further addressing the issue of lockdown and how people are not comfortable in being inside their home day in and day out, Dr Tedros said,
People in countries with stay-at-home orders are understandably frustrated with being confined to their homes for weeks on end. People understandably want to get on with their lives, because their lives and livelihoods are at stake. That’s what WHO wants too. And that’s what we are working for, all day, every day. But the world will not and cannot go back to the way things were. There must be a “new normal” – a world that is healthier, safer and better prepared.
Dr Tedros reiterated the public health measures – find every case; isolate every case; test every case; care for every case; trace and quarantine every contact; educate, engage and empower your people – to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The fight cannot be effective without empowering people and without the full participation of our people. To be clear, WHO’s advice is to find and test every suspected case, not every person in a population, he said.
Dr Tedros also shared the data on countries’ preparedness in winning this battle against COVID-19. Sharing the statistics, he said,
Among countries that have reported data to WHO, 91 per cent have laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19.
78 per cent of the countries that have reported data to WHO have a preparedness and response plan in place; 76 per cent have surveillance systems in place to detect cases; only 66 per cent of the countries have a clinical referral system in place to care for COVID-19 patients; 48 per cent have a community engagement plan; only 48 per cent have an infection prevention and control programme and standards for water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities.
In other words, there are still many gaps in the world’s defences, and no single country has everything in place, said Dr Tedros.
While signing off, Dr Tedros addressed the start of the holy month of Ramadan and said that this is a season of reflection and community – an opportunity for kindness and solidarity.
We’re all in this together. And we will only get through it together, signed off Dr Tedros.