Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

World Health Organization Opening Statement on COVID-19

delivered 9 March 2020, Geneva, Switzerland

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address

WHO Situation Report for COVID-19  09 March 2020.pdf


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

  Thank you. Thank you, Tarik [Jasarevic]. And hope you had a very good weekend. Would like to say good afternoon.

First of all, I would like to start with a brief update on the Ebola epidemic in DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo]. (As you know, we have two fronts.) Its now three weeks since the last case was reported, and a week since the last survival -- survivor left the treatment center. We're now in the countdown to [the] end of the -- of the outbreak.

We continue to investigate alerts and vaccinate contacts every day, and the security situation in Northern Kivu remains fragile.

In previous Ebola outbreaks we have seen flare-ups even after the end of the outbreak, so we are continuing to provide follow-up care for more than 1,100 survivors, and keeping teams on the ground to respond quickly to flare-ups if needed. The outbreak may be ending -- but our determination is not;  and nor is our commitment to combating the COVID-19 epidemic.

As you know, over the weekend we crossed [a] hundred thousand reported cases of COVID-19 in [a] hundred cases [countries]. Its certainly troubling that so many people and countries have been affected so quickly. Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real. But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is: We're not at the mercy of the virus.

The great advantage we have is that the decisions we all make -- as governments, businesses, communities, families, and individuals -- can influence the trajectory of this epidemic. We need to remember that with decisive, early action, we can slow down the virus and prevent infections. Among those who are infected, most will recover. Of the 80,000 reported cases in China, more than 70 percent have recovered and have been discharged.

Its also important to remember that looking only at the total number of reported cases and the total number of countries doesnt tell the full story, except the potential the virus has. Of all the cases reported globally so far, 93 percent are from just four countries. This is an even [uneven] epidemic at the global level. Different countries are in different scenarios, requiring a tailored response.

Its not about containment or mitigation -- which is a false dichotomy.1 It is about both -- both containment and mitigation. All countries must take a comprehensive blended strategy for controlling their epidemics and pushing this deadly virus back. Countries that continue finding and testing cases and tracing their contacts not only protect their own people, they can also affect what happens in other countries, and globally.

W-H-O has consolidated our guidance for countries in four categories:
[1] those with no cases;
[2] those with sporadic cases;
[3] those with clusters; and
[4] those with community transmission.

For all countries, the aim is the same: stop transmission and prevent the spread of the virus.

CDC's Latest Information and Recommendations on COVID-19

For the first three categories, countries must focus on finding, testing, treating, and isolating individual cases, and following their contacts. In areas with community spread, testing every suspected case and tracing their contacts becomes more challenging. Action must be taken to prevent transmission at the community level to reduce the epidemic to manageable clusters.

Depending on their context, countries with community transmission could consider closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, and other measures to reduce exposure.

The fundamental elements of the response are the same for all countries:
-> Emergency response mechanisms;
-> Risk communications and public engagement;
-> Case finding and contact tracing;
-> Public health measures such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette,
    and social distancing;
-> Laboratory testing;
-> Treating patients' and hospitals' readiness;
-> Infection prevention and control;
-> And an all-of-society, all-of-government approach.

There are many examples of countries demonstrating that these measures work. China, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States of America, and many others have activated emergency measures.

Video Published 8 Feb 2020 (English) Video Published 8 Feb 2020 (Chinese)

Singapore is a good example of an all-of-government approach -- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong[s] regular videos2 are helping to explain the risks and reassure people.

The Republic of Korea ha[s] increased efforts to identify all cases and contacts, including drive-through temperature testing to widen the net -- the net and catch cases that might otherwise be missed.

Nigeria, Senegal, and Ethiopia have strengthened surveillance and diagnostic capacity to find -- to find...cases quickly.

Further details on specific actions countries should take in specific contexts are available on W-H-Os website.

W-H-O is continuing to support countries in all four scenarios. We have shipped supplies of Personal Protective Equipment to 57 countries. Were preparing to ship to a further 28. And we have shipped lab supplies to 120 countries.

Were also working with our colleagues across the UN system to support countries to develop their preparedness and response plans, according to the 8 pillars. And we have set up a partners platform to match country needs with contributions from donors.

As you know, more funds are being made available for the response, and were very grateful to all countries and partners who have contributed. Just since Friday, Azerbaijan, China, the Republic of Korea, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have announced contributions.

Almost 300 million U.S. dollars has now been pledged to W-H-Os Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. We're encouraged by these signs of global solidarity. And we continue to call on all countries to take early and aggressive action to protect their people and save lives.

For the moment, only a handful of countries have signs of sustained community transmission. Most countries still have sporadic cases or defined clusters. We must all take heart from that. As long as thats the case, those countries have the opportunity to break the chains of transmission, prevent community transmission, and reduce the burden on their health systems.

Of the four countries with the most cases, China is bringing its epidemic under control and there is now a decline in new cases being reported from the Republic of Korea. Both these countries demonstrate that its never too late to -- to turn back the tide on the virus. The rule of the game is: Never give up. I'll repeat that: Never give up. Were encouraged that Italy is taking aggressive measures to contain its epidemic, and we hope that those measures prove effective in the coming days.

Let hope [be] the -- the antidote to fear. Let -- I'll repeat this -- Let hope be the antidote to fear.

Let solidarity be the antidote to blame.

Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat.

I thank you.

1 A proffered choice between one, and only one, of two alternatives -- where either a) both alternatives, in whole or in part, may be be rationally chosen; and/or b) there exists at least one logical alternative beyond the two proffered which may rationally be chosen.

2 As of 29 March, 2020 the PM's YouTube channel dedicates four single subject COVID-19 videos -- published on 8 February and 12 March respectively -- delivered in both English and Chinese languages. The videos are informative with good production value.

Original Text Source: WHO.int

Original Audio Source: https://who.canto.global

Original Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2019-nCoV-CDC-23312_without_background.png

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

See also: CDC Latest Data and Recommendations

Page Updated: 3/29/20

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = CC BY-NC 3.0 IGO. Text modified for consistency with verbal delivery. Hyperlinks added for additional context. Audio = Uncertain. Image = Public domain.
































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