“If we are not united, the virus will exploit the cracks between us and continue to create havoc,” the director-general of the World Health Organization said.
Ghebreyesus’s statements came during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland as he harked back to WHO’s call for the declaration of a global emergency on January 30th, when the world had counted only 82 cases and no deaths.
“The world should have listened to WHO,” said the director-general. “Every country could have triggered all its public health measures possible.”
Ghebreyesus also touched on WHO’s concerns about increasing COVID-19 trends in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and some Asian countries, where cases and deaths are under-reported because of low testing capacities.
“In the past week, we have delivered supplies [technical assistance and test kits] to more than 40 countries in Africa,” he said.
Globally, WHO has shipped millions of items of personal protective equipment to 105 countries and supplies to more than 127 countries.
The director-general pledged millions of more supplies and an “aggressive” preparation in the weeks ahead for solidarity flights to ship medical supplies.
Ghebreyesus highlighted Europe’s declining cases of COVID-19, urging all countries to continue enforcing isolation measures and to test every case to ensure that the declining trends continue.
“Political leadership is essential, including the vital role of parliaments,” said Ghebreyesus.
“As a former parliamentarian, I fully recognize the role that parliamentarians can play. Parliaments can reduce risks, strengthen emergency preparedness, and increase resilience,” he continued.
The Chief of WHO’s Emergency Response Program, Michael Ryan, reinforced Ghebreyesus’s remarks while explaining the role lockdowns have played in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases in various countries.
Ryan said that the lockdowns are “preventing COVID-19 from finding new victims” and putting pressure on the virus’s capacity to survive.
“I think it’s fairly logical that if you lift that pressure too quickly, the virus can jump back,” he warned.
“We don’t know how quickly, and we don’t know for sure which are the measures that will result in a successful exit strategy,” Ryan added.
Ghebreyesus resumed his statement, expressing WHO’s concerns about malaria treatment that drains the medical resources of 41 affected African countries that are also threatened by the spread of COVID-19.
“In the worst-case scenario, the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could double,” Ghebreyesus pointed out.
“But that doesn’t have to happen,” he continued. “We’re working with countries and partners to support them, put measures in place to ensure that services for malaria continue even as COVID-19 spreads.”
‘Solidarity, solidarity, solidarity’
Ghebreyesus explained that the virus will not be defeated if the world is not united and that the pandemic will “exploit the cracks” between nations and continue to wreak “havoc.”
“This virus will not be defeated if we are not united, if we are not united, the virus will exploit the cracks between us and continue to create havoc. Lives will be lost,” Ghebreyesus added.
The director-general previously touted solidarity as the key to facing the COVID-19 pandemic in a press conference on March 20.
In yesterday’s conference, he said that national unity is the foundation for global solidarity and the solution to the global crisis.
“Solidarity, solidarity, solidarity—that’s what we will say every single day,” he concluded.