100 days since report of first COVID-19 case
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, April 9, 2020
Today marks 100 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of the first case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in China.
The pandemic has spread worldwide with over one million cases reported to date, and almost 80,000 people have died. The fatality rate is estimated to be 10 times higher than influenza.
The global spread of the virus has overwhelmed health systems, disrupted the global economy, and led to widespread societal disruption.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his weekly mission briefing today said the pandemic was much more than a health crisis and required a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society response.”
“In the last 100 days, COVID-19 has shown the damage it can mete out in wealthy nations. The devastation it could wreak in poorer and more vulnerable countries is yet to be perceived,” Dr. Ghebreyesus stated.
The WHO will today publish its technical strategy update for the next phase of the response. It will form the basis of the second Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, which will be released in the coming days.
“We have learned much about this new virus since we first encountered it at the start of the year. These hard-won lessons are reflected in the new strategy. This update addresses the circumstances in lower- and middle-income countries and communities with weaker health systems and infrastructure, and especially in countries affected by conflict and for displaced people,” the DG explained.
The plan comprises five strategic objectives: the mobilisation of all sectors and communities; the control of sporadic cases and clusters and prevention of community transmission; suppression of community transmission where it is occurring; reduction of mortality rates through proper care; and the development of safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics.
These objectives, Dr. Ghebreyesus added, must be supported by tailored national strategies to find, test, isolate and care for every case, and trace every contact.
In turn, national strategies must be supported at the international level in five key areas. These are to support countries to build their capacities to prepare and respond; to provide epidemiological analysis and risk communication; to coordinate the global supply chain; to provide technical expertise and mobilise the health workforce; and to accelerate research, innovation and knowledge sharing.
The second Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan will estimate the resources needed to implement national and international strategies during the next phase of the response.
In this regard, more than US$800 million has been pledged or received so far.
Re-emphasising a point he made at Wednesday’s media briefing Dr. Ghebreyesus said, “We must quarantine politicising this virus. We have to work together, and we have no time to waste. Our singular focus is on working to serve all people to save lives and stop the pandemic.”