WHO says ‘there can be no going back to business as usual’

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Golfers wearing face masks are happy to be playing again at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

Paul Chinn | The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The World Health Organization warned world leaders Wednesday that there can be “no going back to business as usual” following the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended economies and wreaked havoc on nearly every country across the globe.

“We cannot continue to rush to find panic but let preparedness go by the wayside,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference at the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “As we work on responding to this pandemic, we must also work harder to prepare for the next one. Now is an opportunity to lay the foundations for resilient health systems around the world, which has been ignored for long.”

The coronavirus has infected more than 3.6 million people worldwide and has killed at least 257,818 since it emerged in Wuhan, China over four months ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

While reported cases are beginning to decline in regions such as Western Europe, more cases are being reported every day in Eastern Europe, Africa, South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Americas, Tedros said, adding an average of around 80,000 new cases have been reported to the agency every day.

“These are not just numbers. Every single case is a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a brother, sister or friend,” he said. 

Tedros urged caution to countries looking to ease social distancing restrictions intended to curb the pandemic. He said the risk of returning to lockdown “remains very real” if countries do not manage the transition “extremely carefully.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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