The world health body, WHO, on Monday condemned the lack of urgency on the part of many countries in combating the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
At a briefing in Geneva, the Director-General, WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said many countries are not taking testing, isolation and contact tracing (carefully monitoring people who are in close contact with someone who has been infected) seriously. Instead, they are quick to place restrictions on social gatherings.
Mr Ghebreyesus acknowledged that cases of Covid-19 are rapidly escalating because many countries are putting the cart before the horse in their approach to tackling the virus. He said most countries are quick in banning social engagement while they are not doing enough to conduct testing, isolation and contact tracing.
“We have also seen a rapid escalation in social distancing measures, like closing schools and cancelling sporting events and other gatherings. But, we have not seen 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,” he said.
Mr Ghebreyesus emphasised that testing, isolation and contact tracing are the key ways countries can fight the scourge of the disease.
“As I keep saying, all countries must take a comprehensive approach. You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.
He said 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. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case.
“If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too,” he said.
He explained that more test kits are being produced to meet global demand. WHO said it has shipped almost 1.5 million test kits to 120 countries and is working with companies to increase the availability of tests for those most in need.
The agency also advised that all confirmed cases, even mild cases, should be isolated in health facilities, to prevent transmission and provide adequate care.
Since the global spread of COVID19, many countries have been banning social gatherings, closing schools and locking down communities or areas in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
Some of the countries which have taken such measures include; Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Malaysia, Thailand among others.
While the UN agency said it was a move that could reduce the spread of the virus, it, however, said much cannot be achieved until testing, isolation and contact tracing are implemented effectively.
There are increasingly new numbers of cases across the world. As of Tuesday, 8:10 GMT, about 183,065 confirmed cases have been reported in 162 countries with 7,175 deaths.
Meanwhile, while cases in China have been slowing down, cases are erratically increasing across countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Germany, UK, U.S. and Switzerland.
Currently, over 89,000 people infected are in mild condition and over 6,000 are in serious or critical condition. However, all is not bad news as over 87, 000 people have been treated and have recovered from the virus.