New Delhi: Calling upon the world community to accelerate the science as quickly as possible, jointly find solutions to COVID-19 and through solidarity build a cohesive global response, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, ‘it can be done. It must be done. No matter where a country is in its epidemic curve, it is never too late to take decisive action. We must use all the tools we have to bring this pandemic under control. And we need to do it right now.’’

At the media briefing on COVID-19 in Geneva last night, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, ‘‘Many countries are headed in the wrong direction. The virus remains public enemy number one, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this. If governments do not clearly communicate with their citizens and roll out a comprehensive strategy focused on suppressing transmission and saving lives; If populations do not follow the basic public health principles of physical distancing, hand washing, wearing masks, coughing etiquette and staying at home when sick; If the basics aren’t followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse.’’

He cautioned that there will be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future. But there is a roadmap to a situation where we can control the disease and get on with our lives. This is going to require three things: First, a focus on reducing mortality and suppressing transmission. Second, an empowered, engaged community that takes individual behaviour measures in the interest of each other. And third, we need strong government leadership and coordination of comprehensive strategies that are communicated clearly and consistently.

‘‘Although the number of daily deaths due to COVID-19 remains relatively stable, there is a lot to be concerned about. All countries are at risk of the virus, but not all countries have been affected in the same way’’, he added.

He further said that countries that overcame the first peak of the outbreak, but having eased restrictions, are now struggling with new peaks and accelerating cases. ‘‘In several countries across the world, we are now seeing dangerous increases in cases, and hospital wards filling up again. It would appear that many countries are losing gains made as proven measures to reduce risk are not implemented or followed.’’

Ghebreyesus added, ‘‘Countries that are in the intense transmission phase of their outbreak - we’re seeing this across the Americas, South Asia, and several countries in Africa. The epicentre of the virus remains in the Americas, where more than 50% of the world’s cases have been recorded. Almost 80% of the total cases are reported from just 10 countries, and 50% come from just two countries. But it’s never too late to bring the virus under control, even if there’s been explosive transmission.’’