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WHO says countries on “dangerous track” in pandemic

“We are at a critical juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the Northern hemisphere,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference. “The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track.”

“We urge leaders to take immediate action, to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again. As I said it in February and I’m repeating it today: This is not a drill.”

Tedros said too many countries were now seeing an exponential increase in infections, “and that is now leading to hospitals and intensive care units running close or above capacity — and we’re still only in October”.

He said countries should take action to limit the spread of the virus quickly. Improving testing, tracing of contacts of those infected and isolation of those at risk of spreading the virus would enable countries to avoid mandatory lockdowns.

The WHO also said it is preparing guidelines on use of the drug remdesivir for COVID-19 and should be able to release them in three to four weeks.

The United States has given full approval for remdesivir to treat infections, the first COVID-19 treatment to receive regulatory endorsement there.

However, a large WHO study earlier this year on COVID-19 patients in hospital found that the drug probably had no effect on their survival rate.

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