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Global Goals

Focus on fundamentals as COVID-19 caseloads rise




COVID-19 restrictions are in place in Soho, an area in London, UK. / Photograph courtesy of UN

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continue to accelerate, particularly in Europe and North America, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising governments and people everywhere not to let their guard down, for the benefit of those hospitalized, or working on the front line of the battle to end the pandemic.

“I know there’s fatigue but the virus has shown that when we let our guard down, it can surge back at breakneck speed and threaten hospitals and health systems,” agency chief Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyesus said.

Last week, WHO reported that the pandemic has entered a worrying phase as the northern hemisphere winter season approaches.

At the time, the caseload in Europe was almost three times higher than during the first peak of the pandemic in March.

Tedros said he was encouraged to see many leaders communicating with their populations about targeted measures necessary to slow coronavirus spread and protect health workers and health systems.

He pointed out that as cases rise, the number of people needing hospital beds and intensive care also increases. And although nurses and doctors now have a much better understanding of how best to treat people with the virus, the situation could put them and patients at risk.

“So, it’s important that all governments focus on the fundamentals that help to break the chains of transmission and save both lives and livelihoods,” he said.

“This means active case finding, cluster investigations, isolating all cases, quarantining contacts, ensuring good clinical care, supporting and protecting health workers and protecting the vulnerable.”

Tedros underlined that everyone also has a role to play by practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds and other recommended measures.

WHO announced that one of the biggest anthems from the disco era is being refashioned as a “clarion call” for the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘We Are Family,’ by the American group Sister Sledge, will be featured in a new campaign to promote global solidarity, unity and collaboration in the face of the disease.

Kim Sledge, one of the four sisters who sang the dancefloor classic, will rerecord a special edition of the 1979 hit which will be released online on 9 November.

Part of the proceeds will go towards pandemic response and strengthening health services around the world.

“This is a solidarity effort for a global concern,” Sledge said, speaking via video link.

“We all — every tribe, every tongue, every nation, every people — have the banner of love over us, and desire to bring us together in this world to fight the kinds of things that come against who we are.”