More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.
More than 132,000 cases of coronavirus have now been reported from a total of 123 countries and territories, and consequently 5,000 people have lost their lives; a tragic milestone in the history of the world health agency.
According to WHO officials many more countries are becoming more proactive, which is a good thing – they have embraced the eight pillars strategy of WHO’s global disaster, crisis preparedness and response plan, beginning with a robust national plan. Other countries take a multi-sectoral approach and most have functional and well equipped laboratory testing kits.
‘It started and happened in Wuhan, China, and therefore it is none of our business, that it won’t happen to us,’ is a fatal mistake. Virus know no borders.
It can happen to any country.
The experience of China, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and others clearly demonstrates that aggressive testing and contact tracing combined with social distancing measures and community mobilisation can prevent infections and save lives.
Japan sets the pace in the fight against the scourge – COVID -19 with a wholistic approach i.e. a whole-of-government approach, in-depth investigation of clusters which is a significant step in reducing transmission.
Advice to governments, businesses and individuals
Every person must know the signs and symptoms and how to protect themselves and others
Every health worker should be able to recognise this disease, provide care and know what to do with their patients.
Every health facility should be ready to cope with large numbers of patients and ensure the safety of staff and patients.
Detect, protect and treat: You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is.
Find, isolate, test and treat every case to break the chains of transmission. Every case found and treated limits the expansion of the disease.
Reduce transmission: Do not just let this fire burn; isolate the sick and quarantine their contacts.
In addition, measures that increase social distancing such as cancelling sporting events may help reduce transmission. These measures of course should be based on local context and risk assessment and should be time-limited. Even if you cannot stop transmission you can slow it down and save lives.
Innovate and learn
This is a new virus and a new situation. We’re all learning and we must all find new ways to prevent infections, save lives and minimise impact. All countries have lessons to share. There are simple, effective things we can all to do reduce the risk of infection for ourselves and those around us; clean our hands regularly with an alcohol-based rub or soap and water.
Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow if you cough or sneeze
Stay home if you’re sick
Avoid unnecessary travel and large social gatherings
Comply with the advice of your local or national health authority; find and share reliable information; and finally you can give.