GENEVA (AP) The head of the World Health Organization said on Friday that he was very concerned about the divisions that the coronavirus had created around the world and within each country, calling it an invisible but very small virus causing havoc.
The world has never seen anything like it since the flu in 1918, said WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference comparing the current pandemic to the Spanish flu pandemic there more than a century ago that killed at least 50 people. millions of people.
Calling on nations to learn from history and do better, Tedros said the lack of political unity during the current crisis was problematic.
It is a very dangerous virus and it is very difficult to fight it in a divided world, he said.
Tedros did not elaborate, but the two main economic powers in the world, the United States, which have the highest number of cases and deaths from the pandemic and from China, where COVID-19 first appeared , exchanged complaints and accusations on the origins and the handling of the coronavirus.
WHO was part of the quarrel. President Donald Trump has promised to withdraw the United States from the United Nations health agency, accusing the WHO of being too focused on China and accepting assurances from China after the first virus epidemic in Wuhan City.
Dr. Michael Ryan, chief emergency officer of the United Nations health agency, said Friday that the coronavirus is currently the most active in the Americas, with four of the 10 countries with the most cases and deaths in the world in North America and South America. He noted in particular that the increased workload in Brazil is worrying.
It is clear that some regions of Brazil are putting some pressure on the intensive care system, he said. “There are clear hotspots in heavily populated areas.
Ryan said that some of the administrative areas in Brazil have used more than 80% of the capacity of their intensive care units, and some are at a critical stage with more than 90% of their beds in ICU filled.
Brazil has reported more than 802,000 confirmed virus cases, the second largest in the world after the United States and more than 40,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to a count maintained by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. The United States has more than 2 million confirmed cases and 114,000 deaths
The data we have right now supports a system under pressure, but one that still faces the number of serious cases, said Ryan.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has rejected quarantine orders, and many Brazilians have criticized him for opposing city and state measures such as closures, social distancing and other measures intended to curb the spread of coronavirus.
WHO chief Tedros, as an example of the type of national unity he believes the pandemic requires, cited a phone call in which Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told him that she was working with a political party. opposition to identify problems and propose solutions.
Tedros noted that millions of people have lost their lives or their jobs due to the pandemic, calling it a moment of humility. This must stop, he said. But it will be difficult in a divided world.
WHO officials are particularly concerned as the pandemic accelerates in developing countries over the disproportionate number of people who may have difficulty accessing health services: women, children and adolescents, said Tedros.
The coronavirus has overwhelmed health systems in many countries, putting many women at increased risk of dying in childbirth, he said.
Young people who are vulnerable to anxiety and depression are also at higher risk during the pandemic, said Tedros, noting that in some countries more than a third of adolescents receive mental health help exclusively at school . AP medical writer Maria Cheng reported in London.