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Leaders face ‘critical moment’ as COVID cases spike, says WHO chief

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VIDEO SHOWS: WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, AND EXPERTS SAYING THAT LEADERS ARE FACING A CRITICAL MOMENT, THAT GOVERNMENTS IN EUROPE IN PARTICULAR ARE FACING A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION AND THAT THE WHO CHIEF HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A CONTACT OF A PERSON INFECTED AND WILL SELF-QUARANTINE

RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT

SHOWS: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (NOVEMBER 2, 2020) (WHO – ACCESS ALL – NO RESALE)

1. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

2. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, SAYING:

“Over the weekend we saw that while many countries have brought COVID-19 under control, cases in some countries in Europe and North America continue to spike. This is another critical moment for action, another critical moment for leaders to step up. And another critical moment for people to come together for a common purpose. Seize the opportunity, it’s not too late.”

3. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

4. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MICHAEL RYAN, SAYING:

“So, yes, we support the idea of protest and the idea of speaking out and we understand people’s frustrations. But, governments in Europe in particular at this time, are facing a very, very difficult situation. You can argue how we’ve got into this situation, but you can’t argue that the situation is serious. We need to push this virus down; we need take the heat out of this epidemic right now in Europe. And governments have limited options right now in how to do that. Their options are limited. Their options may get easier if we get some success but right now governments face very limited options.”

5. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

6. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO TECHNICAL LEAD FOR COVID-19, MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, SAYING:

“One of the challenges that we’re seeing across North America and across Europe, is that the increases in cases, the increases in hospitalisation, the increases in ICU, are happening at the same time. In the spring there was some staggering of this, of this increase. But it’s happening in many countries at the same time, where many systems are becoming overwhelmed at the same time. So that poses challenges for countries that were able to move facilities and move workforce around to help manage the most intense areas.”

7. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

8. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL, TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, SAYING:

“I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine in the coming days in line with WHO protocols. At this time it’s critically important that we all comply with health guidance. This is how we will break chains of transmission, suppress the virus and protect health systems.”

9. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

10. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MICHAEL RYAN, SAYING:

“The current protocols in WHO are that people who are determined to be contacts of a confirmed case are asked to quarantine for the period of time required. That is the standard protocol and that is what Doctor Tedros is … the regime he is under right now. His testing will depend on the arrival of symptoms or otherwise and he may be tested in the days to come. But our current protocols don’t require that he be tested. He is at home, in quarantine and as you can see, very well and working away and continuing to do his job in supporting the world.”

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11. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

12. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHO TECHNICAL LEAD FOR COVID-19, MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, SAYING:

“We’re all everyday people as well and we live in homes and apartments and we have to grocery shop and we have to take our kids to the doctors and all of that. So, everything that we have put in place, everything that we are recommending to the world we are putting in place here as well. So, as Mike has said, we are tracking all of the cases that are happening with among staff, doing contact tracing forward, doing contact tracing backward, to make sure we understand how people were infected and making sure that transmission is not taking place. We haven’t had any transmission take place on the premises, we have no clusters on the premises but it is something we’re monitoring every day.”

13. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

STORY: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday (November 2) that a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in some countries in Europe and North America presented leaders with a “critical moment for action”.

“This is another critical moment for action,” he said. “Another critical moment for leaders to step up. And another critical moment for people to come together for a common purpose. Seize the opportunity, it’s not too late.”

Top WHO emergencies expert, Mike Ryan, said governments in Europe face a “very, very difficult situation” in controlling rising numbers of COVID-19 cases as their citizens grow weary with renewed restrictions on daily life.

“Governments, particularly in Europe, are facing a very, very difficult situation. We need to push this virus down, take the heat out of this epidemic. Their options are limited.”

WHO technical lead for COVID-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said the latest spike in infections was stretching health services.

“One of challenges that we are seeing across North America, across Europe, is that the increases in cases, the increases in hospitalization, the increases in ICU admissions are happening at the same time,” she told the Geneva briefing.

WHO Director-General Tedros said on Sunday (November 1) that he had been identified as a contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but added that he was feeling well and did not have any symptoms.

“Our current protocols don’t require that he be tested,” Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, told a news briefing in Geneva. “He is working at home…continuing to do his job in support of the world. His testing will be depending on the arrival of symptoms or otherwise.”

Van Kerkhove said that no clusters have been reported in the WHO premises.

(Production: Cecile Mantovani, Michael Fiorentino, Natasa Bansagi)

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