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'The hard reality is this is not even close to being over': WHO warning six months on from Covid-19 notification

Dr Tedros also said today that for countries that aren’t performing well with contact tracing, saying it’s difficult is a “lame excuse”.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization
Image: Salvatore Di Nolfi AP/PA Images

ANY COUNTRY CLAIMING that contact tracing is difficult during the coronavirus pandemic is using “a lame excuse”, according to the head of the World Health Organization.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the health body, suggested governments saying contacts are too hard or too widespread to get hold of has been the biggest failing of some throughout the crisis.

He told an online press conference today: “If there is a single failure for many of our countries to really not hunt down this virus (it) is our failure in contact tracing because we have lame excuses saying ‘it’s too many and it’s too difficult to trace because there are too many’.”

Referencing health workers who have previously contact traced during illness outbreaks in war-torn nations, Dr Tedros continued: “Trust me there is not too many, even in a war situation.

“If contact tracing helps you to win the fight you do it even risking your life.”

He added: “If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult it is a lame excuse.”

Health authorities in Ireland indicated from the beginning it would engage in robust contact tracing, but there has been criticism in the UK that its system of testing, tracing and isolation “is not yet fully functional”.

Dr Tedros also reflected on the fact that tomorrow marks six months since the WHO was first informed about the outbreak that would later come to be known as Covid-19.

He told the press conference: “Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world – and our lives – would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the best and worst of humanity.

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“All over the world we have seen heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity and kindness.”

But he added: “We have also seen concerning signs of stigma, misinformation and the politicisation of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over… although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.

The virus emerged six months ago in China, where the WHO will send a team next week in connection with the search for its origin, Tedros said.

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