RIYADH, March 1 (Bernama) — The panic and fear of the COVID-19 will not only affect the economy but may have political and social implications globally, said World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He said the global community needs to stay focus on the best way to tackle this panic and fear by taking the appropriate actions, assessment and containment strategy.

“It’s not panic or fear that we need now. What we need now is to focus and do the right thing.

“Otherwise, the panic and fear will not only affect the economy but may also have political and social implications, that are even more dangerous than the virus itself.

“Our advice to the world on what to do now is a comprehensive approach. We need to focus on this containment phase to control the virus,” he said during the First High-level Session: The Importance of the Humanitarian-development Nexus at the 2nd Riyadh Humanitarian International Forum, here on Sunday.

Also present were Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Executive Director for the UN World Food Programme David Beasley and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock.

Dr Tedros pointed out that albeit calls from some experts and media practitioners to address this outbreak as a pandemic, the agency believed it has not reached that level.

“There is a potential to be pandemic, anything can go in many directions. But now, from the global assessment that we have, we don’t see intensive and sustained community transmission in multiple countries.

“Meaning, the facts on the ground don’t show that. But there are clusters in Iran and South Korea, Italy that may go into community transmission. When this happens, it may qualify as a pandemic definition,” he explained. 

 WHO on Friday raised their risk assessment for spread and impact of COVID-19 from “high” to “very high,” but still declined to declare the outbreak a pandemic amid its impact on an increasing number of nations.

Dr Tedros stressed out that the containment strategy used in some countries have successfully contained the outbreak hence the number of cases has been declining.

He also underscores the importance of a comprehensive approach using the containment strategy in order to fight the virus, rather than pushing the panic button and spread the negative vibes.

“So the best approach we have, based on the country level risk and global assessment, is to prepare for any potential pandemic via a comprehensive approach.

“Invest in this comprehensive approach, no panic no fear, calm down and focus. Just avoid the stigma,” he said.

Meanwhile, Executive Director for the UN World Food Programme (WHP) David Beasley said people should have not panicked as the agency, together with WHO, has worked strategically with an ideal mechanism against this new and completely different virus.

He believed that some quarters were overreacting in the market place continuously and this would cause a catastrophic impact and create a further destabilisation.

“This is not a time to panic, this is a time to step up, a time to react with comprehensive measures involving leaders of nations coming together. 

“This COVID-19 is just one of the many issues that we are facing right now,” Beasley said.

The 2nd Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum from March 1-2 is organised by KSrelief and aims to tackle the humanitarian issues and global trends through five main panel discussions, two media sessions and one volunteer session.

The forum recommendations will be presented as a comprehensive report containing a summary of the findings.

The report will provide the participants with principles to be adopted and used in the field. 

It will be coordinated by specialists in Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.



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