Coronavirus is Public Enemy Number 1: WHO chief warns final death toll depends on future actions

  • Thousands worldwide are dead from the coronavirus pandemic,
  • The final death toll will depend on how world governments and citizens respond to the spreading pandemic, World Health Organization officials said.
  • “The pandemic continues to take a massive toll,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said

Calling the coronavirus pandemic “Public Enemy No. 1,” World Health Organization officials warned Wednesday that the final death toll of the outbreak depends on how governments and citizens respond to the spreading pandemic.

“The pandemic continues to take a massive toll,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing.

“We have overcome many pandemics and crises before. We will overcome this one, too. The question is how large a price we will pay.”

“We have lost more than 16,000 lives, we will lose more. How many more will be determined by the decisions we make,” Tedros said.

In fact, the global death toll is now nearly 20,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global infections have risen to over 441,000, according to JHU.

Tedros said it was crucial that political leaders of the world nations take actions to slow the spread of the pandemic to avoid overwhelming their countries’ health care systems.

He lamented the delay in getting enough national governments to respond agressively to the outbreak after it began several months ago in China.

“We have been saying for more than two months now this virus is public enemy number one,” Tedros said.

“It’s a dangerous virus. We had been saying to the world the window of opportunity is narrowing and the time to act was actually more than a month ago, two months ago.”

“In some countries the number of cases have really jumped and overwhelmed the system and they were not prepared so it was really difficult to give service to the patients who were coming to the hospitals to get service,” Tedros said.

“So preparing the system is very important for any country.”

He later said, “I think we squandered the first window of opportunity but we are saying today … this is a second opportunity that we should not squander.”

On Monday, Tedros had noted that, “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.”

On Wednesday, Tedros said that the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the Olympics was a “difficult but wise,” noting that it will protect athletes, spectators and officials.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates. 


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