"We are at war," says the WHO chief, warning that millions of people could die from COVID-19 | 90.1 FM WABE

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"We are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart," World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told world leaders Thursday at a special virtual summit on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deadly coronavirus, Tedros said, "is the defining health crisis of our time."

As the WHO chief spoke, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide was reaching the 500,000 mark. More than 20,000 people have died, and both Italy and the USA. USA They are about to overtake China at the top of the list of countries with the highest number of coronavirus cases.

In the USA Thousands of National Guard members are strengthening vital support systems, such as helping distribute supplies at food banks. An increasing part of the world population has orders to stay home; Many schools and businesses are told to close.

Two weeks after considering viral respiratory disease as a global pandemic, Tedros told attendees of the G20 Extraordinary Leaders Summit on COVID-19: "The pandemic is accelerating at an exponential rate."

He noted that while it took weeks for the first 100,000 cases to accumulate, the most recent 100,000 cases were reported over the course of just two days.

Millions of people could die if governments do not take aggressive action against the coronavirus, Tedros said. Summit participants included the world's most powerful leaders, from President Trump to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The pandemic is damaging the world's social, political and economic systems that will only reveal themselves over time, Tedros said.

The WHO chief concluded his speech by making three requests to his audience.

"First, fight. Fight hard. Fight like hell, ”said Tedros. "Fighting as if your life depended on it, because they do."

Urging aggressive action to stop the virus, the WHO chief said:

“Many of your countries have imposed drastic social and economic restrictions, closing schools and businesses, and asking people to stay home.

"These measures will remove some of the heat from the epidemic, but will not extinguish it.

"We must do more. We must immediately build, expand, train, and deploy healthcare workers to find, test, isolate, and treat every case and track every contact. This is not an option; it is an obligation ".

His other requests were for the world's most influential countries to unite in the fight against the coronavirus to share strategies and resources, and to ignite innovation in their industries, to create vaccines and therapies, and to form "a global movement to ensure may this never happen again. "

“We can speak different languages ​​and adhere to different creeds, but we are made of the same thing. We are a human race, ”said Tedros.

"Fight. Unite. Turn on.

"And may our singular resolution be: never again."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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