On Monday the World Health Organization said “the worst is yet to come” in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and that “the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
It’s been six months since the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a global health emergency , but on Monday the WHO warned the world to prepare for a “long haul” ahead.
“The worst is yet to come,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on a call with reporters from Geneva. “I’m sorry to say that. But, with this kind of environment and condition, we fear the worst.”
The WHO stressed repeatedly on the call that not all countries are combatting the new virus with the same levels of success, or vigilance. With more than half of the 10 million coronavirus cases to date and almost half of the 500,000 deaths worldwide centered in the Americas, there’s a lot more that both governments and individuals in overburdened countries like the US and Brazil could be doing to stop this virus.
“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,” Tedros said. “Although many countries have made some progress, globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
Without naming any names, Tedros chided many countries for not doing more to stop the spread of the virus, as world economies reopen.
“This could have been prevented through the tools that we have at hand,” Tedros said of the virus’ current spread. “Time after time and country after country, what we have seen is this virus can be suppressed if the governments are serious about the things they have to do their share and if the community can do its share.”
Some countries are able to “pounce on disease” better than others
The WHO applauded previously hard-hit countries like South Korea and China, and others that have dealt with recent recurrences of the virus, including Germany, Singapore, and Japan, saying that coronavirus vigilance requires a concerted effort on the part of both politicians, and citizens at large.
Many of the most successful coronavirus-fighting countries have adopted a multi-layered public health approach that allows them “to pounce on disease” quickly and effectively when and where it re-emerges, the WHO’s Mike Ryan, executive director of the agency’s Health Emergencies Program, said.
“What you have to do is push the disease down to the lowest possible level,” he said, stressing that, in addition to more nationwide testing and tracing, and good public health surveillance systems, the most successful coronavirus-fighting strategies rely on diligent citizens who stay home when transmission is widespread.
“Communities have made a huge sacrifice for that to happen. They’re staying at home, they’re staying away from their families, they’ve contributed tremendously to suppressing infection,” Ryan said.
But that’s not been case across much of the US, where many basic public health measures, such as wearing a mask to prevent asymptomatic virus spread, and staying home when the virus is spreading in a community , have been couched as political choices .
One non-partisan Pew Research Center pollconducted earlier this month found that a majority of Republican and “Republican-leaning” independents surveyed considered that the very worst of the coronavirus outbreak “is behind us,” while less than a quarter of Democrats and Democratic-leaning survey participants said the same…