World

WHO chief urges nations not to give up Covid-19 fight

GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief warned on Monday that abandoning efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic, as suggested by a top US official, was "dangerous", urging countries not to "give up".

"We must not give up," Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.

He acknowledged that after months of battling the virus, which has claimed more than 1.1 million lives globally, a certain level of "pandemic fatigue" had set in. "It is tough and the fatigue is real," Dr Tedros said.

"But we cannot give up," he added, urging leaders to "balance the disruption to lives and livelihoods".

"When leaders act quickly, the virus can be suppressed."

His comment came a day after US President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN that the administration's focus had moved to mitigation, not stamping out the virus.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations," Mr Meadows said, comparing the deadly Covid-19 with the seasonal flu.

Asked about the comments, Dr Tedros said he agreed that focusing on mitigation, and especially on protecting the vulnerable, was important.

"But giving up on control is dangerous," he insisted.

Dr Tedros stressed that mitigation and controlling the pandemic were "not contradictory. We can do both".

While governments have a responsibility to ensure precautions such as testing and contact tracing are in place, he emphasised that everyone had a responsibility to halt the spread of Covid-19.

"Governments should do their share and our citizens should do their share, to do everything to minimise transmission," he said.

"There aren't magic solutions...," he insisted. "No one wants more... lockdowns. But if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part."

WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan also said countries should "not give up on trying to suppress transmission".

"There were many places in the US and elsewhere that had a lot of trouble back in March and April using mitigation," he said.

"When our emergency rooms were overwhelmed and we were rolling freezer trucks up to the back of hospitals, that was the reality of mitigating a disease in the face of a tsunami of cases.

"You run out of capacity to cope and that is the fear right now." - AFP

WORLD