WHO chief warns of complacency as global virus cases drop

WION Web Team
Geneva, Switzerland Published: Feb 13, 2021, 05:50 PM(IST)

World Health Organization (WHO) Ethiopian Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press briefing on Covid-19 Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said the number of reported infections globally has declined for the fourth week in a row, and the number of deaths also fell for the second consecutive week

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday cautioned against relaxing restrictions that have helped curb the spread of the coronavirus around the world.

''Now is not the time for any country to relax measures or for any individual to let down their guard,'' he told a briefing.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said the number of reported infections globally has declined for the fourth week in a row, and the number of deaths also fell for the second consecutive week.

While the figures reported by countries to the WHO for the week ending Feb 8 are still incomplete, the global body said so far about 1.9 million newly confirmed cases were registered worldwide, down from more than 3.2 million the previous week.

Tedros said members of a WHO expert mission who recently visited China to investigate the possible source of the outbreak would publish a summary of their findings next week.

Chinese scientists and the WHO's team of international researchers said this week that the coronavirus most likely first appeared in humans after jumping from an animal, and an alternate theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab was unlikely.

The mission has said its main hypotheses are that the virus originated in a bat, although there are several possible scenarios for how it passed to humans, possibly first by infecting another species of animal.

Peter Ben Embarek, the leader of the WHO mission, said Friday the labs in Wuhan that his team visited stated they had not been working with the virus that causes COVID-19 or had it in their collections before the outbreak. But he said it was possible the virus could still be present in samples that haven't yet been analysed.

He said the team had gained a much better insight into the early stages of the outbreak and concluded there was no large cluster of the disease in Wuhan or elsewhere around the city in the months prior to the first cases in December 2019. 

The former administration of US President Donald Trump, which left office last month, said it believed the virus may have escaped from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan. China has strongly denied this and says the Wuhan Institute of Virology was not studying related viruses.

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