Coronavirus accelerating rapidly, warns WHO

But it is still possible to change its trajectory, the world body added

Passengers-mask-Corona-salil-bera Railway passengers wear protective masks, in Kolkata | Salil Bera

The World Health Organisation on Tuesday warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly "accelerating", but said it was still possible to "change the trajectory" of the outbreak. According to AFP data, the global deaths have crossed the 15,000 mark, with more than 3,41,000 infected worldwide. "The pandemic is accelerating," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, according to reports.It took 67 days from the beginning of the outbreak in China in late December for the virus to infect the first 100,000 people worldwide. In comparison, it took 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases,” he said.


The number of cases is believed to represent only a fraction of the true number of infections, with many countries only testing the most severe cases in need of hospitalisation. "We are not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic," Tedros said. He called for a mixed approach, which he likened to a football match, after he and FIFA chief Gianni Infantino jointly launched a campaign aimed at spreading the message of how to protect against infection "to kick out coronavirus." "You can’t win a football game only by defending. You have to attack as well," he said. "Asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time, but they are defensive measures that will not help us to win," he warned.


"To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics," he said, reiterating a call for "testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case and tracing and quarantining every close contact."

Tedros praised the great energy being put into research and development to find a vaccine and of drugs to treat COVID-19. But, he said that "there is currently no treatment that has been proven to be effective against COVID-19," and warned against the use of drugs not proven to work against the disease. "Using untested medicines without the right evidence could raise false hope and even do more harm than good, and cause a shortage of essential medicines that are needed to treat other diseases," he said. Among other things, countries are looking at using antimalarial drugs as a treatment against the new coronavirus.

India is currently facing a surge of cases, with infections in excess of 450 now. Almost all states are under a partial or complete lockdown, Maharashtra and Punjab being the first ones to invoke whole-state curfews. Authorities, however, have allayed fears of a community transmission. “So far there’s no confirmation of any community transmission,” Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said.

The Union health ministry maintains that there was no evidence of community spead and that these specific cases was still being looked into. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had insisted that India is currently at Stage 2 of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit over 100 countries, hinting there is no community transmission of the virus.

In stage 2, the disease is transmitted locally from infected persons who are in close contact or from those who travelled abroad. The source of the virus can be traced easily, as opposed to community transmission stage 3—the phase in which people are unable to identify how they got the virus. If community transmission begins, it would be extremely difficult for governments to contain the rapid spread of the disease.

At Stage 4, the situation is similar to that of Wuhan, where the disease spread like wildfire.

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