8 Quotes from the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Media Briefing

March 12, 2020
"All countries need to review their strategies now," says Dr. Michael J. Ryan, WHO Informal Advisory Group member.

On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization held a media briefing to declare the COVID19 outbreak a global pandemic.

Managing Editor Stefanie Valentic live-tweeted the event via her Twitter account @SafetyEditor

The panel, comprised of Dr. Tedros Adhanom, WHO director general; Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead; and Dr. Michael J. Ryan, WHO informal Advisory Committee, stressed the importance of containment and preparation to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected and killed thousands across the globe.

"In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher," Dr. Tedros said in his opening remarks.

He continued, "Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death."

While this is the first pandemic caused as a result of a coronavirus, Dr. Tedros said that it also is the first pandemic that can be controlled.

The fundamentals of public health have proven successful to containment of the COVID-19, according to Dr. Van Kerkhove. She cited some of these measures, specifically mentioning activating emergency mechanisms, taking it seriously from the start, repurposing government officials to tackle the virus, testing, quarantine, case and contact finding/tracing, mobilizing the population to protect themselves and practicing basic hygiene.

Dr. Ryan cautioned against reactive measures saying,  "It is not the time for countries to move toward mitigation," only if they are in a position to affect the course of the transmission of COVID-19. This could overwhelm a country's healthcare system.

"All countries need to review their strategies now," he added.

View the slideshow to see eight other quotes from the media briefing. A live count of diagnosed COVID-19 cases and deaths is available here.

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