WHO sees hope despite looming 750,000 virus death toll

Grave diggers wearing protective suits bury a Covid-19 victim in St Petersburg, Russia on May 10. (AP pic)

GENEVA: The World Health Organization insisted Monday there was still hope of conquering the coronavirus pandemic despite the pain and suffering behind the looming 750,000 death toll and 20 million cases.

With both landmarks expected to be reached within days, the WHO said it was never too late to take action to suppress the Covid-19 crisis that has gripped the planet.

“This week we’ll reach 20 million registered cases of Covid-19 and 750,000 deaths,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference.

“Behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering. Every life lost matters. I know many of you are grieving and that this is a difficult moment for the world.

“But I want to be clear: there are green shoots of hope and … it’s never too late to turn the outbreak around.”

Tedros gave examples of countries that had successfully clamped down on the spread of the virus, citing New Zealand and Rwanda.

He also praised Britain and France for taking swift recent measures to tackle new spikes, such as imposing lockdowns around clusters in northern England and making masks compulsory in busy outdoor spaces in Paris.

“My message is crystal clear: suppress, suppress, suppress the virus,” he said.

“If we suppress the virus effectively, we can safely open up societies.”