Countries letting virus run unchecked, playing with fire: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that it’s “extremely concerned” by the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in some countries, particularly in Europe and the Americas.

“Right now we are extremely concerned by the surge in cases we’re seeing in some countries. Particularly in Europe and the Americas, health workers and health systems are being pushed to the breaking point,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing.

He warned that “those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire,” as there will be “further needless deaths and suffering,” “a significant number of people experiencing long-term effects of the virus,” and health workers in particular facing “extreme mental health pressure and cases severely burdening health systems in too many countries.”

According to the latest WHO statistics, as of 2:59 p.m. CET (Central European Time) on Monday, the organization’s regional offices in Europe and the Americas had respectively recorded 15,266,390 and 23,190,772 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 344,459 and 679,201 deaths, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The two regions combined have recorded more than 70 per cent of the overall confirmed cases and over 77 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths worldwide. Many countries in the two regions have reported record daily spikes in infection in the past few weeks.

“There is no excuse for inaction. My message is very clear: act fast, act now, act decisively,” urged Tedros.

He added that the WHO and its partners are working with governments and health leaders to ensure cover for health workers who are sick, enough beds for Covid-19 patients and for essential health services to continue safely, and enough masks, gloves and other protective equipment.

“A laissez-faire attitude to the virus, not using the full range of tools available, leads to death, suffering and hurts livelihoods and economies,” he warned, and asked governments to put restrictions in place so that “there is once again a narrow window of time to strengthen key systems.”