Around 125,000 people in 118 countries are affected by the novel corona virus, which has arisen at an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has affected all areas of life, sealed off entire countries, triggered draconian government measures that were not observed in peacetime, and forced the cancellation of global sports and cultural events from Broadway to basketball, forcing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic – a Disease that is actively spreading worldwide.
However, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that describing the outbreak as a pandemic should not mean that countries give up their struggle to prevent further spread.
Here is the full text of the WHO Director-General's opening speech at the COVID-19 mission briefing:
Your Excellency, dear colleagues and friends,
First of all I want to say good morning.
As you know, I said yesterday that the global COVID 19 outbreak can now be described as a pandemic.
This is not a decision that we made lightly.
We made this assessment for two main reasons: first, because of the speed and volume of the transfer.
Almost 125,000 cases from 118 countries and areas have now been reported to the WHO. In the past two weeks, the number of cases reported outside of China has almost tripled and the number of countries affected has almost tripled.
The second reason is that, despite our frequent warnings, we are deeply concerned that some countries will not respond to the threat with the level of political commitment required to control it.
Let me be clear: calling this a pandemic doesn't mean countries should give up. The idea that countries should move from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous.
On the contrary, we have to double.
This is a controllable pandemic. Countries that choose to abandon basic public health policies may have a bigger problem and a greater burden on the health system, which requires stricter controls to control.
All countries must strike a balance between protecting health, preventing economic and social disruption, and respecting human rights.
We urge all countries to take a comprehensive approach that is tailored to their circumstances – with containment as the central pillar.
We urge countries to pursue a four-step strategy:
Prepare and be ready.
There are still 77 countries and areas with no reported cases and 55 countries and areas that have reported 10 cases or less.
And all countries with cases have unaffected areas. You have the option to do this. Prepare your employees and your healthcare facilities.
Second, recognize, prevent and treat.
You can't fight a virus if you don't know where it is. This means robust monitoring to find, isolate, test and treat each case and break the transmission chain.
Third, reduce and suppress.
To save lives, we have to reduce the transmission. That means finding and isolating as many cases as possible and quarantining their closest contacts. Even if you can't stop the transmission, you can slow it down and protect healthcare facilities, retirement homes, and other important areas – but only if you test all suspected cases.
Fourth, innovate and improve.
This is a new virus and a new situation. We all learn and need to find new ways to prevent infection, save lives and minimize impact. All countries have lessons to share.
WHO works day and night to support all countries.
We have delivered supplies of personal protective equipment to 57 countries, we are preparing to ship to a further 28, and we have delivered laboratory supplies to 120 countries.
We have published an R&D roadmap with a number of core protocols for conducting studies.
We have published a comprehensive package of technical instructions.
We have received more than 176,000 registrations for our COVID training on OpenWHO.
We work with the World Economic Forum and the International Chambers of Commerce to involve the private sector. We also work with FIFA.
We work with our colleagues throughout the UN system to help countries develop their preparedness and response plans according to the eight pillars.
More than $ 440 million has now been committed to the WHO strategic preparedness and response plan
We thank the countries that have contributed, in particular those who have contributed fully flexible funds. Since this is a dynamic situation, we need the greatest possible flexibility to offer the best possible support. In a spirit of solidarity, we urge countries not to provide funds for this response.
Thank you again for your support and commitment.
As I keep saying, we're all there together.
I thank you.
India experienced its first coronavirus death when Karnataka Minister of Health B. Sriramulu confirmed on Thursday that a 76-year-old Kalaburgi man in the northern region of the state had died of COVID-19.
The Union Ministry of Health has confirmed 76 cases of coronavirus to date.