The COVID-19 pandemic is a long way from over, but the deadly virus can be brought under control “within months” with joint efforts on vaccination and epidemic prevention, Mr Ghebreyesus announced. His remarks came as WHO expert Dr Maria van Kerkhove warned at the same press conference that the pandemic had reached a “critical stage” globally as the number of new cases worldwide continued to rise.
The WHO Director-General said: “We have many reasons for optimism.
“The decline in cases and deaths during the first two months of the year shows that this virus and its variants can be stopped.
He continued: “With a concerted effort to apply public health measures alongside equitable vaccination we could bring this pandemic under control in a matter of months.
However, the top health official warned: “This disease is not flu.
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“Young, healthy people have died.
“And we still don’t fully understand the long-term consequences of infection for those who survive.”
Earlier on Dr van Kerkhove drew attention to the importance of following all social distancing measures alongside vaccination.
She said: “We need headlines around these public health and social measures, we need headlines around the tools that we have right now that can prevent infections and save lives.
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“We are in a critical point of the pandemic right now, the trajectory of this pandemic is growing.
“Take a look at what people are doing and how you are mixing, make sure you are doing the right steps that you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
“We need governments to support individuals so that the control measures in place are applied consistently and are applied in a coherent manner.
“It is vaccines but it’s not vaccines-only – it’s vaccines and what can you be doing everyday, what can you be doing to keep yourself safe and your loved ones safe.”
Monday marked the reopening of high street shops and pub gardens in England, as well as non-essential retailers in Wales.