Geneva – The progression of the Covid-19 outbreak has caused the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise the global risk assessment to the highest level after the virus reached sub-Saharan Africa and financial markets continued to plummet.
On February 28, Friday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the organization has “now increased assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the Covid-19 to very high at a global level.”
The virus is now present in all continents except Antarctica and has prompted governments and enterprises to restrict international travel and limit convening in crowded places.
World markets suffered their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, reported CNA. The central bank is ready to intervene if necessary, said the US Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell. The “evolving” risks of the epidemic on the world’s largest economy is a situation that needs close monitoring and preparation.
Meanwhile, countries are implementing extended efforts to contain the virus.
South Korea, Iran and Italy have abruptly become the virus hotspots with more than 3,000, 380 and 800 confirmed cases, respectively.
However, “this is not a time for panic. It is time to be prepared – fully prepared,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
WHO chief Ghebreyesus said there is still hope to contain the virus. “We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities,” he said.
He added that the key to Covid-19 containment is “to break it’s chain of transmission”. He emphasized the importance of proper personal hygiene and social responsibility at this time.
Furthermore, “Our greatest enemy is not the virus itself, it’s fear, rumours and stigma and our greatest assets are facts, reason and solidarity,” said the WHO chief.
What the WHO announcement lacked were specific action plans to approach and handle the outbreak, which many of the public were expecting.
“There he goes again,” said Gabe Seah, referring to Mr Ghebreyesus. “Broad statement, stating the obvious but did not provide specific action plans to help the situation…He probably spreads more panic than help.”
CK Ang commented that he too had upgraded his level of distrust on the WHO to the highest level.
Others were looking for a “whistleblower to warn or help people in advance” and not a “parrot.”
Ngai Hoe Foong rephrased Mr Ghebreyesus’ statement to “the greatest enemy is the lack of transparency” and explained why.