"The worst is yet to come," WHO warns on future of coronavirus

Jun 30 2020, 8:29 am

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the “worst is yet to come” for the future of COVID-19.

On Monday, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus provided a media briefing on the state of the pandemic, the measures WHO has taken to date, and what countries must continue to do to stop the spread of the virus.

“This is a moment for all of us to reflect on the progress we have made and the lessons we have learned, and to recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to save lives,” Ghebreyesus said.

It has officially been six months since WHO received the first reports of a cluster of cases in China. Since then, 10 million coronavirus cases have been reported globally with 500,000 deaths.

He noted the pandemic has brought out the “worst and best” in humanity.

“All over the world we have seen heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity and kindness. But we have also seen concerning signs of stigma, misinformation and the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. 

“With 10 million cases now and half a million deaths, unless we address the problems we’ve already identified at WHO, the lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity and the divided world which is actually helping the virus to spread… the worst is yet to come.”

While a vaccine is the most pressing long-term tool for controlling the virus, Ghebreyesus said that there are five priorities that every country must focus on now.

First, communities need to be empowered with the correct information to reduce virus spread like hygiene, covering coughs, staying home if you feel sick, wearing face masks when appropriate, and sharing reliable sources.

The second is suppressing transmission by improving surveillance with case and contact tracing.

Third, WHO says lives can be saved through early identification and clinical care — especially paying close attention to “high-risk” groups.

Fourth, the acceleration of research and development and the reevaluation of research priorities.

Lastly, political leadership, which is to provide national unity and global solidarity to implement a comprehensive strategy to suppress transmission and save lives.

“No matter what stage a country is at, these five priorities – if acted on consistently and coherently – can turn the tide,” Ghebreyesus said.

He added that the critical question for countries is how to live with the virus, as this is the “new normal.”

He warned that some countries are experiencing a resurgence of cases as they start to reopen their economy, with most people remaining susceptible.

“The virus has a lot of room to move. We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over.”

The WHO also published a detailed timeline of their response to the pandemic so far which includes an educational platform that has enrolled millions of healthcare workers to stay informed on how to treat the virus.

The organization also launched the Solidarity Trial to find answers on which drugs are most effective, and the Solidarity Response Fun, which has raised more than USD $233 million.

To date, Canada has a total of 103, 918 cases with 67, 178 recovered and 8,566 reported deaths.

On Monday, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said Canada has flattened the curve faster than countries such as the UK, Italy, and the US.