"Test, test, test" - World Health Organisation calls for all suspected Covid-19 cases to be tested
"You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected."
Test, test, test.
That's the plain and simple message from the World Health Organisation (WHO) following the latest coronavirus media briefing.
Speaking on Monday (16 March), WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for every suspected case of Covid-19, worldwide, to be tested.
"As I keep saying, all countries must take a comprehensive approach," he noted.
"But the most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission. And to do that, you must test and isolate. You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.
"We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms and test those people, too."
Ghebreyesus reiterated that more tests are being produced every day in order to meet the global demand. The World Health Organisation has shipped almost 1.5 million tests to 120 countries and is working to increase availability for those most in need.
"Once again, our key message is: test, test, test," the WHO Director-General explained.
"This is a serious disease. Although the evidence we have suggests that those over 60 are at highest risk, young people, including children, have died.
"WHO has issued new clinical guidance with specific details on how to care for children, older people and pregnant women. So far, we have seen epidemics in countries with advanced health systems. But even they have struggled to cope.
"As the virus moves to low-income countries, we're deeply concerned about the impact it could have among populations with high HIV prevalence or among malnourished children. That’s why we’re calling on every country and every individual to do everything they can to stop transmission."
As of Monday, the global Covid-19 death toll stands at over 6,700. There are over 175,000 confirmed cases reported.
Referring to "the defining global health crisis of our time," Ghebreyesus highlighted that the days, weeks and months ahead will bring tests of resolve, trust in science and the nature of solidarity.
"Crises like this tend to bring out the best and worst in humanity," he said.
"Like me, I’m sure you have been touched by the videos of people applauding health workers from their balconies, or the stories of people offering to do grocery shopping for older people in their community.
"This amazing spirit of human solidarity must become even more infectious than the virus itself. Although we may have to be physically apart from each other for a while, we can come together in ways we never have before.
"We’re all in this together. And we can only succeed together. So the rule of the game is: together."