WHO head: Use lockdown time to attack the virus

The head of the World Health Organization says countries that are on lockdown because of the coronavirus should use the opportunity to take further measures to contain it.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was speaking to reporters at a regular news conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

Tedros said, "To slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries have introduced unprecedented measures at significant social and economic cost, closing schools and businesses, canceling sporting events and asking people to stay home."

He said these lockdown measures are buying time and reducing pressure on health systems, and called on countries to use the opportunity to take the actions needed to stop transmission and save lives.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the WHO health emergencies program, said the world is facing a significant shortage of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

She called for prioritizing the use of such equipment for frontline workers, saying they must be protected.

Regarding the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Tedros thanked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee for making the sacrifice to protect the health of athletes, spectators and officials.

He added that he looks forward to next year's Games, and he hopes they will be an even bigger and better celebration of the shared humanity.