“All countries must strike a fine balance between protecting health, preventing economic and social disruption, and respecting human rights,” WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Thursday.
Over 125 000 cases (6729 new) have now been reported to WHO, with 4613 deaths.
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.
Four new countries/territories/areas have reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, namely French Polynesia, Turkey, Honduras and Côte d’Ivoire.
The WHO Clinical Unit continues to convene clinicians around the globe, twice weekly by teleconference to share knowledge and experiences from clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients and highlight operational challenges and technical questions.
Ghebreyesus encouraged countries to take a four-pronged strategy which includes being prepared and ready; detect, prevent and treat; reduce and suppress as well as innovate and improve.
He urged countries to have robust surveillance to find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission.
“To save lives we must reduce transmission. That means finding and isolating as many cases as possible, and quarantining their closest contacts. Even if you cannot stop transmission, you can slow it down and protect health facilities, old age homes and other vital areas – but only if you test all suspected cases,” Ghebreyesus said.
He said countries must find new ways to prevent infections, save lives, and minimize impact.
“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. The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous,” Ghebreyesus said.