Countries affected by the novel coronavirus have imposed significant restrictions like lockdowns. This alone would not kill the virus once and for all, but will only buy them time. "The answer depends on what countries do while these population-wide measures are in place," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday

"We squandered the first window of opportunity...the time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago," he added. This is the second window of opportunity which we should not squander, he bluntly put forth.

Coronavirus crisis

COVID-19 has killed more than 22,000 people for now. The agency generally avoids public criticism of its member states, Michael J Ryan, the Executive Director, WHO health emergencies program, said. Ghebreyesus advised more than 150 countries and territories which have fewer than 100 cases.

"By taking the same aggressive actions now, these countries have the chance to prevent community transmission and avoid some of the more severe social and economic costs seen in other countries," he said.

"The world is not ready for a pandemic," Ryan said and added "If there's any lesson from this pandemic, it's that we need stronger public health systems."

WHO Logo
who.in

"Protecting our health-care workers must be the top priority." said Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist at the WHO, who is also a technical lead of the health emergencies program. As health workers are short of protective equipment like face-masks, she added while she reiterated to countries that they use the time during the lockdowns to test more, so that they know where to fight.