As Europe and North America witness a spike of new COVID-19 cases and deaths, the World Health Organization warned on Monday that countries should not count on magic solutions but hard work to get ahead of the deadly virus and stay ahead.
Last week saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported so far since the outbreak of the pandemic in late December. Many countries in the northern hemisphere are now seeing a concerning rise in cases and hospitalizations. Intensive care units are filling up to capacity in some places, particularly in Europe and North America, according to the WHO.
No one wants more so-called lockdowns. But if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part. The fightback against this pandemic is everyone's business.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general
The agency's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that a number of leaders critically evaluated their situation and took action over the weekend to limit the spread of the virus, clearly referring to several European Union nations.
Countries from Italy and Spain to Belgium and France have tightened restrictions in the past few days in a bid to bring down infections.
"No one wants more so-called lockdowns. But if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part," Tedros said at a virtual news conference from Geneva. "The fightback against this pandemic is everyone's business."
Tedros emphasized that everyone must make trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices.
"For individuals, families and communities, that means staying at home and especially if you have been exposed to a case," he said, reiterating the need for social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and avoiding crowds.
He called on governments to "know your epidemic" to break the chain of transmissions, test extensively, isolate and care for cases, and trace and provide supported quarantine for all contacts.
"With these measures, you can catch up to this virus, you can get ahead of this virus, and you can stay ahead of this virus," he said.
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"There aren't magic solutions to this outbreak, just hard work from leaders at all levels of society, health workers, contact tracers and individuals."
Many countries and cities have followed the science, suppressed the virus and minimized deaths. "From Dakar to Melbourne, Milan to Islamabad, New York to Beijing, when leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed," Tedros said.
He said where there has been political division at the national level, where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread and cases and deaths have mounted.
"This is why I have said repeatedly: stop the politicization of COVID-19," Tedros said. "A pandemic is not a political football. Wishful thinking or deliberate diversion will not prevent transmissions or save lives."
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