WHO says countries need to do more coronavirus testing

WHO says countries need to do more coronavirus testing
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The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said governments need to do more to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said social distancing measures have been ramping up but said those efforts alone will not be enough.

"We have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing — which is the backbone of the response," Tedros said during a news conference. 

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Social distancing measures, like closing schools and restaurants, can help to reduce transmission and enable health systems to cope. Hand-washing and coughing into your elbow can reduce the risk for yourself and others, "but on their own, they are not enough to extinguish this pandemic. It’s the combination that makes the difference," Tedros said. 

Tedros said countries need to increase their testing and isolation in order to break the chains of transmission.

"You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected," Tedros said. "We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test."

The organization has shipped almost 1.5 million coronavirus tests to 120 countries, Tedros said.

In the U.S., the Trump administration has faced withering criticism over delays and limited capacity in testing for coronavirus.

The U.S. testing capacity is far behind other countries, like South Korea, which have tested thousands of people each day.