Countries that have locked down their populations to prevent the spread of coronavirus need to put a premium on finding new cases and doing everything they can “to suppress and control” the virus, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said U.S. President Donald Trump had displayed “political commitment” and “leadership” to fight the growing epidemic in the United States.
The WHO had warned on Tuesday the United States could become the global epicenter of the pandemic, as India announced a full 24-hour, nationwide lockdown in the world’s second-most populous country.
Tedros, speaking at a news conference, also praised the “difficult but wise decision” taken on Tuesday to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, saying it aimed to safeguard the health of athletes and spectators.
He said some countries had wasted time in marshalling resources to combat the outbreak, however.
“We have been saying to the world that the window of opportunity is narrowing and the time to act was actually more than a month ago, two months ago,” Tedros said.
“But we still believe that there is opportunity. I think we squandered the first window of opportunity. This is a second opportunity which we should not squander and do everything to suppress and control this virus.”
WHO officials warned again the world faced a “significant shortage” of personal protection equipment for health workers, particularly masks, gloves, gowns and face shields.
Tedros was due to seek support for ramping up production and funding from Group of 20 leaders holding a summit on Thursday, the officials said.