Story at a glance

  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference that the coronavirus pandemic can abate with strong leadership and full citizen participation.
  • This comes as there are almost 20 million global coronavirus infections.

Breaking from historically somber news, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday that there are “green shoots of hope” as the world reckons with the COVID-19 pandemic, CNBC reports.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged the struggles people across the globe have endured. 

“I know many of you are grieving and that this is a difficult moment for the world,” he said, “But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope, and no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is, it’s never too late to turn the Covid-19 outbreak around.”

Explaining this statement, Tedros named multiple steps countries can take to fight the virus, primarily boiling down to leaders taking action and citizens thoroughly following public health measures.

He further cited countries in Southeast Asia, as well as New Zealand, Rwanda and Caribbean and Pacific islands that were able to control the virus spread early in the pandemic. Each country took similar steps to mitigate virus spread, specifically noting Rwanda’s “strong leadership, universal health coverage, well-supported health workers and clear public health communications.”

Tedros also noted that countries who suffered severe, wide-reaching outbreaks, such as France, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, were able to suppress the virus when they took action. Notably absent from this list is the United States, who currently leads the world in case volume with more than 5 million confirmed COVID-19 infections. 

“Getting the basics right provides a clear picture of where the virus is and the necessary targeted actions to suppress transmission and save lives,” Tedros said. 

For countries like the U.S., including Brazil and India, where outbreaks are rampant and transmission is surging in some areas, Tedros says that the virus spread can be contained by applying government leadership and citizen responses. This demands strong public health infrastructure, including quick case identification, contact tracing, ample hospital care, social distancing, the use of facial masks and other good hygienic practices.  

He also addressed the global issue of whether or not to open schools to the public, saying that countries which have successfully reduced COVID-19 transmission are making the decision using a “risk-based approach” and must be vigilant for outbreaks. 

“My message is crystal clear: suppress, suppress, suppress the virus,” Tedros concluded. “If we suppress the virus effectively, we can safely open up societies.”

Worldwide, there are 19.9 million coronavirus cases, and more than 732,000 fatalities. The U.S., Brazil and India continue to lead the world in terms of the number of positive infections. 

Published on Aug 10, 2020