Coronavirus update: World Health Organisation warning - Social distancing not enough
It's not enough to extinguish this pandemic
By Elizabeth Daoud
March 16 2020
The head of the World Health Organisation says social distancing and other measures to limit contact can help fight the spread of the coronavirus, but testing people is its number one priority.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the outbreak has seen social distancing measures being implemented but not “an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing - which is the backbone of the response”.
“Social distancing measures can help to reduce transmission and enable health systems to cope,” Ghebreyesus said in a press conference on Monday.
“But on their own, they are not enough to extinguish this pandemic.
“It’s the combination that makes the difference.”
Ghebreyesus also emphasised that countries around the world need to test more, a sentiment he’s repeated in previous media briefings.
“As I keep saying, all countries must take a comprehensive approach,” he said.
“But the most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission.
“And to do that, you must test and isolate.
“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded.
“And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.
“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test.”
‘Do it for yourself, do it for others’
The director-general of WHO again reminded the public about the importance of practicing hygiene and touched on the importance of not panic buying.
“Washing your hands will help to reduce your risk of infection,” Ghebreyesus said.
“But it’s also an act of solidarity because it reduces the risk you will infect others in your community and around the world.
“Do it for yourself, do it for others.
“We also ask people to express their solidarity by refraining from hoarding essential items, including medicines.
“Hoarding can create shortages of medicines and other essential products, which can exacerbate suffering.”
Worldwide, more than 175,000 people have contracted the virus, and more than 7000 people have died.
The virus has now claimed more lives in the rest of the world than in China.
Italy has recorded more than 2000 deaths and has the second-highest number of cases.
The European nation was put into lockdown last week, with the government limiting citizens’ movements and closing down businesses.
Spain and France have recorded 335 and 127 deaths respectively, while Iran has recorded 853 deaths.
Watch: 7 simple steps to prevent the spread of Coronavirus