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“There is no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be,” against the novel coronavirus, warned World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebrevesus during a virtual media briefing on Monday.
Though the leader of the WHO said there is some progress being made with possible treatments, and noted that “a number of vaccines are now in Phase 3 clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection,” he added that there is no magic cure for this virus at this time.
“For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control: testing, isolating and treating patients and tracing and quarantining their contacts,” Tedros said.
Tedros, who remarked on his own use of a face mask and hand sanitizer, reminded that “it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others.” He implored the world to “do it all.”
Even when the virus appears to be under control, Tedros also cautioned government leaders to “keep improving surveillance, contact tracing, and ensure disrupted health services are restarted as quickly as possible.”
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“Keep safeguards and monitoring in place, because lifting restrictions too quickly can lead to a resurgence,” he added. “We can save lives if we do it all together.”
To promote unity in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Tedros also announced a mask challenge will start this week. He explained the WHO is encouraging people to send photos wearing their masks. He said the mask has come to represent solidarity and sends a powerful message that “we are all in the together.”
The WHO leader also announced during the briefing that an advanced team in China studying the origins of COVID-19 has recently concluded its groundwork. Now, an international WHO-led team, which will include scientists and researchers, will continue the studies, including traveling to Wuhan, the virus’ original epicenter, to identify the potential source of infection in early COVID-19 cases. Tedros did not disclose the advanced team’s findings.
Evidence and hypotheses generated through this work will lay the ground for further, longer-term studies, stated Tedros. Until then, world leaders need to continue to work with populations to bring the virus under control.