WHO warns that getting COVID-19 under control may require tougher lockdowns and 'sacrifice for many, many people,' as cases surge across US and Europe

WHO warns that getting COVID-19 under control may require tougher lockdowns and 'sacrifice for many, many people,' as cases surge across US and Europe
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (right) speaks with WHO Health Emergencies Programme Director Dr. Michael Ryan during a press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 6, 2020.Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
  • As COVID-19 cases surge across the world, the World Health Organization has warned that countries may need to impose stricter measures to get the virus under control.
  • "We're well behind this virus," Dr. Mike Ryan, a WHO official, said, adding that controlling the virus might "require a sacrifice for many, many people in terms of their personal lives."
  • Nonessential businesses may have to shut down again to take the "heat" out of this stage of the pandemic, Ryan said.
  • The WHO also warned the virus was beginning to "leak" into older and more vulnerable populations. The average age of those infected is beginning to creep up, it warned.

The World Health Organization warned Monday that the world was "well behind" where it should be on COVID-19 and that getting the crisis under control "may require sacrifice for many, many people" — including some of the strictest possible lockdown measures, such as stay-at-home orders.

"We're well behind this virus," Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO's health-emergencies program, said at a press conference in Geneva. "We will have to get ahead of this virus," he added, saying it "may require sacrifice for many, many people in terms of their personal lives."

His warning came with COVID-19 cases surging, particularly in the US and Europe.
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WHO officials said some countries might have to consider closing nonessential businesses again to stem the tide.

"It may require shutting down and restricting movement and having stay-at-home orders in order to take the heat out of this phase of the pandemic," Ryan said.

The WHO also criticized some nations for not doing enough to reduce the spread of the virus during the first wave of the pandemic.
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"We are seeing a large number of cases, we are seeing widespread disease, we are seeing very, very high positivity rates and an increasing lack of capacity to do any effective form of contact tracing," Ryan said.

In August, WHO said young people were the primary spreaders of the virus. But WHO officials said Monday that the coronavirus was starting to "leak" into older, more vulnerable populations.
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"We are seeing a creeping up in the average age," said Maria Van Kerkhove, the organization's technical lead.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Sunday that the US was "going on the wrong direction" on COVID-19 following record daily increases in recorded cases.

France also recorded its own record daily rise in cases on Sunday, with 52,000 new cases. On October 22, Spain and France became the first European countries to pass 1 million recorded cases.
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