Despite encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccines and cautious optimism over potential new tools against the disease, “this is not the time for complacency,” the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned during his latest press briefing in Geneva.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the UN agency is “extremely concerned” by the surge in cases in some countries, particularly in Europe and the Americas, which is pushing health workers and health systems to breaking point.
“In this moment when some governments have put all of society restrictions in place, there is once again a narrow window of time to strengthen key systems”, he told journalists.
Tedros again highlighted the actions that have helped to prevent COVID-19 spread, such as contact tracing and cluster investigations, noting that countries which have invested in these areas are facing much less disruption.
“Those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire”, he stated.
WHO chief stressed the need for greater action to support health workers but also to keep schools open, protect the vulnerable and safeguard the economy.
“From calling up students, volunteers and even national guards to support the health response in times of crisis, to putting strict measures in place that allow pressure to be removed from the health system. There is no excuse for inaction. My message is very clear: act fast, act now, act decisively”, he said.