Coronavirus: WHO chief sees ‘green shoots of hope’ in pandemic fight

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said he can see “green shoots of hope” in the battle against coronavirus, even with the global case count set to reach 20 million within days.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he also expects the global death count to get to around 750,000 this week, however he said many countries were providing reasons for optimism in their response to the pandemic.

He said in a briefing on Monday: “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 no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it’s never too late to turn the COVID-19 outbreak around.”

The WHO’s director-general pointed to New Zealand, which on Sunday marked 100 days with no local spread of the coronavirus, as an example for the world.

He also had kind words for Boris Johnson, praising the UK prime minister for ordering parts of the North of England back into lockdown after a spike in infections there.

He said: “Over the last few days, UK prime minister Boris Johnson put areas of northern England under stay at home notifications as clusters of cases were identified.

“In France, President Emmanuel Macron introduced compulsory masking in busy outdoor spaces of Paris in response to an increase in cases.

“Strong and precise measures like these, in combination with utilising every tool at our disposal, are key to preventing any resurgence in COVID-19 and allowing societies to be reopened safely.”

The UK, Germany and France “were able to suppress” the virus by taking action, he said – despite a worrying rise in cases across all three countries.

Other leaders, he said, “must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures”.

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