The Covid-19 pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives and part of adjusting to the “new normal” is finding ways to live our lives safely, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief has warned.
This can be done, but how to do it will depend on where one lives and his/her circumstances. It’s all about making good choices, said WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“We’re asking everyone to treat the decisions about where they go, what they do and who they meet with as life-and-death decisions – because they are. It may not be your life, but your choices could be the difference between life and death for someone you love, or for a complete stranger,” he warned.
In recent weeks there have seen outbreaks associated with nightclubs and other social gatherings, even in places where transmission had been suppressed.”We must remember that most people are still susceptible to this virus. As long as it’s circulating, everyone is at risk,” he continued.
“Just because cases might be at a low level where you live, that doesn’t make it safe to let down your guard. Don’t expect someone else to keep you safe. We all have a part to play in protecting ourselves and one another,” he said.
Urging young people to take charge, he said: “In recent years we’ve seen young people leading grassroots movements for climate change and racial equality. Now we need young people to start a global movement for health – for a world in which health is a human right, not a privilege,” he added.
More than 15 million cases of Covid-19 have now been reported to WHO, and almost 620,000 deaths.
Although all countries have been affected, intense transmission is seen in a relatively small group of countries. Almost 10 million cases, or two-thirds of all cases globally, are from 10 countries, and almost half of all cases reported so far are from just three countries, said Dr Ghebreyesus.
“Political leadership and community engagement are the two vital pillars of the response. One of the tools governments can use is the law – not to coerce, but to protect health while protecting human rights,” he said.
WHO, the United Nations Development Programme and Georgetown University have launched the Covid-19 Law Lab, a database of laws that countries have implemented in response to the pandemic.It includes state of emergency declarations, quarantine measures, disease surveillance, legal measures relating to mask-wearing, physical distancing, and access to medication and vaccines.
“Well-designed laws can help to build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and enforce actions to create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces,” said the WHO chief.