THE director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Tuesday the coronavirus outbreak is “accelerating, and we have clearly not reached the peak of the pandemic”.
“More than six months in, the case for national unity and global solidarity is undeniable,” he said at a WHO briefing.
“We cannot afford any divisions.”
Tedros stressed that while global deaths have levelled off, many countries are actually seeing cases and deaths rise.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said there are several possible explanations for a global death decline.
One explanation, he said, could simply be that there is a lag, and we may see deaths rise again.
Ryan warned, however, that what is imminently concerning is a daily increase in cases.
“That is not purely a result of testing,” he said.
According to Tedros, a team of WHO experts will be travelling to China this week to advance research working to understand how the novel coronavirus first reached humans.
Ryan said understanding how the virus got from the animal kingdom to humans is an “extremely important” step in managing risk going forward.
“There is a trail and we have to follow that,” he said.
They spoke after scientists and urged the agency and other public health organisations to amend their guidelines to reflect the risk that the coronavirus can be airborne.
The WHO has said the coronavirus is only confirmed to be airborne during aerosol-generating medical procedures performed in healthcare settings, such as intubation.
It says the virus primarily spreads through larger respiratory droplets, which do not travel as far, which is why maintaining social distancing of about 6 feet has been recommended.
But an open letter supported by 239 scientists says airborne transmission of Covid-19 is a “real risk”.
“Hand washing and social distancing are appropriate, but in our view, insufficient to provide protection from virus-carrying respiratory micro droplets released into the air by infected people,” states the letter, entitled “It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of Covid-19”.
Last week, WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, said the organisation is in the process of producing a scientific brief on the issue that will be published in the coming days.
She said the WHO still recommends people physical distance and continue to wear face masks.
The letter was issued as most countries are witnessing a spike in coronavirus cases. – CBSNEWS/AFP.