The WHO described the virus as a pandemic that is “controllable.”
Rabat – The world must consolidate efforts to confine the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, said the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday.
“With the COVID-19 outbreak now a pandemic, countries should not let up on efforts to fight its spread,” said Ghebreyesus during his regular update on the new coronavirus in Geneva.
“Let me be clear: describing this as a pandemic does not mean that countries should give up. On the contrary, we have to double-down,” he added.
Ghebreyesus explained the situation may worsen if countries give up on controlling the out breaking. “This is a controllable pandemic,” he said.
As a preventive measure, Morocco has suspended all air and maritime transport to and from Spain, France, Italy, and Algeria.
The WHO designated COVID-19 as a pandemic on Wednesday, March 11, explaining that the characterization does not change its assessment of the threat.
“It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do,” Ghebreyesussaid in a press conference.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus,” said Ghebreyesus. “And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.”
With thousands more “fighting for their lives” in hospitals, he noted that the toll was likely to climb in the coming days and weeks.
The state of the pandemic today
The number of COVID-19 cases rose to 138,432 with 5,082 deaths as of midday Friday, March 13. A total of 70,719 patients have fully recovered from the virus.
On Thursday, Ghebreyesus announced 55 countries have reported 10 cases or fewer, while 77 countries and territories have no reported cases.
Morocco has reported seven confirmed cases, one of whom died in Casablanca.
Ghebreyesus also reported on WHO’s assistance to a number of countries.
“We have shipped supplies of personal protective equipment to 57 countries, we’re preparing to ship to a further 28, and we’ve shipped lab supplies to 120 countries,” said Ghebreyesus.
The WHO also pledged $440 million for its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan and is coordinating with the World Economic Forum, the International Chambers of Commerce, and FIFA.
Ghebreyesus subsequently urged governments to pursue containment and isolation measures to prevent the virus from spreading.
Depending on the state of the outbreak in their area, Ghebreyesus said countries should take four escalating levels of action: Prepare and be ready, protect and treat, reduce transmission, and innovate and learn.
Meanwhile, the UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a message late on Wednesday, “The best science tells us, if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in the response, we can go a long way to mitigating transmission.”
He called on every government to scale up their efforts. “As we mourn all those who have lost their lives and the many families who are suffering, we must show solidarity with the most vulnerable – the elderly, the sick, those without reliable healthcare, and those on the edge of poverty.”