Coronavirus pandemic speeding up, worse yet to come: WHO

Coronavirus pandemic speeding up, worse yet to come: WHO

The coronavirus pandemic is speeding up and the worst is yet to come, the World Health Organisation chief said on Monday.

"The worst is yet to come, I'm sorry to say that. But with this kind of environment and condition we fear the worst, and that's why we have to bring our acts together and fight this dangerous virus together," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing.

“Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up. We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over,” the head of the WHO said.

Saying that tracing contacts of people with coronavirus infections is the most important step in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and countries that are failing to do so have no excuse. “Most people remain susceptible, the virus still has a lot of room to move. No excuse for contact tracing. If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult, it is a lame excuse,” the WHO chief said.

In a move sought by the WHO’s biggest critic, the United States, Tedros also announced that a team will be sent to China next week to investigate the origins of the outbreak.

“We can fight the virus better when we know everything about the virus, including how it started,” Tedros said. “We will be sending a team next week to China to prepare for that.”

US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both said the disease could have escaped from a lab in Wuhan, although they have presented no evidence of this, and China denies it. Scientists say the virus emerged in nature.

Trump has announced plans to quit the WHO, which he says is too close to China. He has repeatedly emphasised the Chinese origins of the virus, calling it “Kung Flu” at two rallies this month, a term the White House had previously described as unacceptable and which Asian-American groups say is racist.

Asked about Trump’s use of the term, the director of the WHO’s emergencies program, Mike Ryan, called for an “international discourse that is based on mutual respect”. “Many people around the world have used unfortunate language in this response,” he said.