Europe is now the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, according to one of the world’s leading health officials.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more cases of covid-19 are being recorded at the moment than were ever reported during the height of the epidemic in China.
He said globally 5,000 people have now died after contracting the disease, with 132,000 cases reported across the globe from 123 countries or territories.
Dr Tedros said: “Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.
“More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.
“We’re encouraged that many countries are now acting on the eight pillars of WHO’s strategic preparedness and response plan.”
He also advised countries affected to take a “comprehensive approach” to tackling covid-19.
And Dr Tedros warned that countries should not be “testing alone”, adding: “Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all.
“Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks ‘that won’t happen to us’ is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to any country.
“The experience of China, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and others clearly demonstrates that aggressive testing and contact tracing, combined with social distancing measures and community mobilisation, can prevent infections and save lives.
“Japan is also demonstrating that a whole-of-government approach led by Prime Minister Abe himself, supported by in-depth investigation of clusters, is a critical step in reducing transmission.”
He told governments across the world to “prepare and be ready”.
Dr Tedros said: “Every person must know the signs and symptoms and how to protect themselves and others.
“Every health worker should be able to recognise this disease, provide care and know what to do with their patients.
“Every health facility should be ready to cope with large numbers of patients, and ensure the safety of staff and patients.
“You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission. Every case we find and treat limits the expansion of the disease.”
He added: “Do not just let this fire burn. Isolate the sick and quarantine their contacts.
“This is a new virus and a new situation. We’re all learning, and we must all find new ways to prevent infections, save lives, and minimise impact. All countries have lessons to share.”
He also paid tributes to health workers across the globe.
Dr Tedros said: “Today I want to send a personal and sincere thank you to every health worker around the world – especially nurses and midwives, who we are celebrating this year through the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
“You do a heroic job. We know that this crisis is putting a huge burden on you and your families. We know you are stretched to the limit.”
The WHO has also launched the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund which will allow individuals and organisations to contribute to the response to the pandemic.
To donate visit: who.int
As of Friday afternoon there were 85 cases of coronavirus in Scotland with the country’s first death also confirmed.
There are now 798 cases across the UK, up from 590 on Thursday. Ten people across the country have died after contracting the disease.
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