Stop politicising COVID-19, says WHO

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Lusaka - The World Health Organisation has slammed governments that are politicising the new coronavirus, with the Director-General of the United Nations agency Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus also commending the scientific community for its efforts thus far.

At a virtual media briefing this week, Dr Ghebreyesus emphasised that “the war against the scourge was everyone’s business”.

“We cannot have the economic recovery we want and live our lives the way we did before the pandemic.  We can keep our kids in school, we can keep businesses open, we can preserve lives and livelihoods. We can do it! But we must all make trade-offs, compromises, and sacrifices,” he said.

“When leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed. But, where there has been political division at the national level; where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has spread and cases and deaths have mounted. This is why I have said repeatedly: stop the politicisation of COVID-19.” 

WHO special COVID-19 envoy, Dr David Nabarro warned of another vicious wave of COVID-19 infections, chiefly in Europe where infections, re-infections and fatalities are surging.

"They missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months after they brought the first wave under the control," Dr Nabarro said.  "Now we have the second wave. If they don't build the necessary infrastructure, we'll have a third wave early next year."

He said many political decision-makers did not understand that the virus was spreading exponentially.

"Exponential means the numbers could rise eight times in a week, 40 times in two weeks, 300 times in three weeks, over 1,000 times in four weeks, and so on.” 

Zambia’s Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chlufya warned of a second wave of the new coronavirus in the country, saying “pandemic fatigue” had set in and people had dropped their guard.

Non-adherence to prescribed health protocols meant increased infections and re-infections. The country recorded over 255 new infections and at least two deaths by late Wednesday. In all, Zambia has had more than 300 deaths and 13,000 infections since March.

“Zambia may be on the verge of a second wave if we continue seeing what we are seeing today. The threats we face today that predisposed us to a second wave include, pandemic fatigue with attendant complacency in observing prevention measures, wearing masks, washing hands and keeping that distance and reporting symptoms early.” Dr Chilufya warned. 

“Pandemic fatigue, coupled with COVID-19 denial, are real threats to the COVID-19 control and predisposes the country to a possible second wave.”

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