MARCH 24, 2020: The World Health Organisation has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating, with more than 300,000 cases now confirmed.
It took 67 days from the first case to a total of 100,000 cases and then 11 days for the next 100,000, only for the third 100,000 to be reached in just four days.
However WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thinks it is still possible to change the trajectory and asked countries to adopt rigorous testing and contact-tracing strategies.
“What matters most is what we do. You can’t win a football game by defending. You have to attack as well,” he told a joint news conference with Fifa president Gianni Infantino to launch a “kick out coronavirus” campaign featuring footballers.
Asking people to stay at home and other physical-distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread but Dr. Tedros described them as defensive measures that will not help to win.
“To win, we need to attack with aggressive and targeted tactics – testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and chasing and quarantining every close contact.”
In France, President Emmanuel Macron told religious authorities that he was not in favour of a total lockdown but Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said a virtual lockdown to slow the spread could last several more weeks and that his government was tightening restrictions.
In Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after a week of persuading Britons to stay home and practise social distancing, finally ordered people to stay at home, closing non-essential shops, telling people not to meet with friends or family and warning those who do not follow the rules face fines, in a decision not much different from Malaysia’s movement control order.
Saudi Arabia imposed a nationwide curfew yesterday after reporting a jump of almost a quarter in cases, while the United Arab Emirates will suspend all passenger flights from tomorrow.
Spain’s leftist government a week ago declared a 15-day state of emergency nationwide barring people from all but essential outings. That has now been extended to April 11, after earlier saying the restrictions would not be made stricter.
The country’s death toll jumped to 1,326 from 1,002 the day before, according to Health Ministry data released on Saturday. The number of cases rose to 24,926 from 19,980.