As cases climb to 10 million worldwide, the WHO urges leaders to stop the politicization of COVID-19. The lack of national unity and global solidarity is helping the virus to spread.
Tomorrow marks six months since the World Health Organization (WHO) received first reports of the group of pneumonia cases of an undetermined cause in China. At almost 10 million coronavirus cases worldwide, the critical question that all countries will face in the coming months is how to live with this virus.
"That is the new norm.”
"Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world and our lives would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Abhanom Ghebreyesus. “The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of humanity all over the world. We have seen heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity, and kindness. But we have also seen concerning signs of stigma, misinformation, and the politicization of the pandemic."
A few days ago, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and actor Richard Gere were among 500 people who signed an open letter that democracy is under threat by certain authoritarian leaders due to coronavirus. The letter said, "Parliament's being sidelined, journalists arrested, minority scapegoated, and most vulnerable sectors of the population face alarming new dangers."
This letter comes after more people are growing alarmed of their privacy rights from increased and opaque data collection for contact tracing by governments to combat the virus.
Furthermore, U.S. Ambassador William Taylor argued that strong men do not seem to be winning against COVID-19 and that the virus is having a devastating effect on strong men who are taking the steps that need to be made. He said, "if strong men believe that they can take advantage of COVID-19 to suppress civil liberties they're wrong, this will backfire on them."
Dr. Tedros addressed these quotes through his formative political experiences. As a former member of Parliament, he believes that the citizens of any country are the same despite their political parties. In other words, all lives are valuable.
WHO says, whether we belong to the right or left, or we're the center —what they call the Progressive Party— what matters at the end of the day is what we do good for the people.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros: Quarantine COVID politics. Because even one life is important whether it belongs to the left, to the right, or the center.
Unity across nations, political parties, ideologies, beliefs, races, and any differences you can mention are imperative because the virus has two dangerous combinations. One is, it's fast and contagious. Second, it's a killer.
"The lack of national unity and lack of global solidarity, and that divided world is actually helping the virus to spread," he said. He fears that the worst is yet to come with this kind of politicized environment and condition. "That's why we have to bring our acts together and fight this dangerous virus together."
To turn the tide, WHO says that national unity and global solidarity are essential to implement a comprehensive strategy to suppress transmission, save lives, and minimize the virus's social and economic impact.
Dr. Tedros empathized, "We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the harsh reality is, this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress, globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up. We're all in this together."
He reasserted the need for resilience and worldwide solidarity. He said, "We will need even greater stores of resilience—patience, immunity, and generosity in the months ahead. We have already lost so much. But we cannot lose hope."
Now is a crucial time for political and moral leadership. Dr. Tedros said, "It's also a time for all countries to renew their commitment to universal health coverage at the cornerstone of social and economic development."
"Every individual needs to look in the mirror and say, am I doing enough? And every politician needs to look in the mirror and say, am I doing enough to stop this virus?" asked WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros.
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