WHO seeks global unity vs COVID-19

Published August 7, 2020, 7:55 AM

by Agence France-Presse & Xinhua

GENEVA, Switzerland — The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday urged world leaders to “choose the path of cooperation and act now” to end the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s not just the smart choice, it’s the right choice and it’s the only choice we have,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the Aspen Security Forum via video link. 

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO/Handout via Xinhua / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We must seize this moment to come together in national unity and global solidarity to control COVID-19, address antimicrobial resistance and the climate crisis,” he urged, adding that for all the differences, “we are one human race sharing the same planet and our security is interdependent.” 

The WHO chief told the audience that the events of the last seven months are a tragic reminder of the insecurity and instability that disease can cause. 

“Today, more than 18.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported to WHO and 700,000 lives have been lost,” he said. 

Saying that it’s never too late to turn outbreaks around and many countries have done just that, Tedros stressed that it’s never too late to turn the situation around. 

Stick with science “Our best way forward is to stick with science, solutions and solidarity and together we can overcome this pandemic,” he noted. 

Global COVID-19 deaths surpassed 710,000 on Thursday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. 

The number of coronavirus cases recorded worldwide has passed 19 million, according to an AFP tally from official sources at 2300 GMT Thursday. 

The number of coronavirus cases recorded worldwide has passed 19 million, according to an AFP tally from official sources at 2300 GMT Thursday. At least 19,000,553 cases and 712,315 deaths have now been registered. 

Forty percent of cases were in the United States and Brazil, the two worst-affected countries with 4,870,367 cases (159,864 deaths) and 2,912,212 infections (98,493 deaths) respectively. Other countries with over 30,000 fatalities include Mexico, Britain, India, Italy, and France. 

New challenges 

The United Nations said on Thursday that the COVID-19 crisis poses “a host of new challenges” to national authorities and collective response efforts are needed. 

The nexus between terrorism and organized crime took center stage in the Security Council on Thursday, with UN officials raising fresh concerns over opportunistic alliances emerging among belligerents who share a hostility towards national authorities, and seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by the COVID-19 crisis. 

“Comprehensive and cooperative responses are needed more than ever,” said Ghada Waly, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

“The COVID-19 crisis is raising a new set of challenges for national authorities, as criminals seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by lockdowns and shifting travel patterns. Building the capacities to deal with these threats is now a key part of UNODC’s focus,” she noted. 

Vladimir Voronkov, head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, told the virtual meeting that terrorists are exploiting the significant disruption and economic hardships caused by COVID-19 to spread fear, hate and division and radicalize and recruit new followers. 

The increase in internet usage and cybercrime during the pandemic further compounds the problem. 

Both speakers highlighted the support of the United Nations to assist member states in implementing measures such as anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism, strengthening border security and more. 

Voronkov concluded with a call to “continue our fight against terrorist groups and criminal networks to deny them the opportunity to exploit the COVID-19 crisis.”