WHO Director Says Worst of Covid19 Yet To Come
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, warned yesterday that the worst of the Covid 19 pandemic was yet to hit. This warning comes as countries around the world are beginning to ease restrictions and constraints on public gatherings in a bid to resume normalcy gradually, citing a decline in Covid19 cases.
Having flattened the curve, European countries like Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Austria have started easing their respective lockdowns. Denmark, which was the second European nation to announce a nationwide lockdown after Italy, reopened the country’s daycare centres and primary schools last week, and among other professionals, allowed hairdressers, dentists, tattooists and driving school instructors to go back to work. Norway’s kindergartens opened yesterday as well, and Austria, despite having eased restrictions, has urged its citizens to continue following social distancing measures, and has made it it mandatory to wear masks outdoors. Danish PM Mette Frederiksen called the reopening a delicate balancing act dependent on the continued stability of Covid19 infection rates.
In India, too, some states had announced easing of lockdown restrictions starting this week, but they were rolled back yesterday evening. Karnataka, which had allowed two-wheelers to operate and IT companies to resume operations with 33 per cent strength, retracted its permissions after citing “public opinion” as the reason. Kerala, on the other hand, withdrew relaxations after receiving a strongly worded letter from the Home Ministry accusing the state of diluting the centre’s nationwide lockdown guidelines.
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Meanwhile, in some places, the pressure to ease lockdown and resume pre-Covid19 normalcy has become a controversial, and hotly-contested, political issue. Protesters around the US have started defying the distancing by gathering in large numbers to protest the economic shutdown prompted following Covid19. Last week, a car-bound protest in Michigan led to a traffic jam that blocked an ambulance and stopped physicians and caregivers on their way to to work.
Although Tedros did not specify exactly why he believes the pandemic is about to get worse, he did call for transparency from world leaders. “There is no secret in WHO because keeping things confidential or secret is dangerous. It’s a health issue. [And] this virus is dangerous. It exploits cracks between us when we have differences,” Tedros said.
Tedros called Covid19 “Public Enemy No. 1,” comparing the pandemic to the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed over a 100 million people. He appealed to countries to take social distancing seriously and continue being on alert. “Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us. Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand,” Tedros said.