Published: 21st March 2020
You are not invincible against COVID-19: WHO Director-General tells youth
Ghebreyesus recommended anyone under lockdown to maintain healthy habits, such as not smoking, doing exercise
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned young people that they were "not invincible" against the coronavirus pandemic.
"Today I have a message for young people: You are not invincible," the WHO chief said at a live-streamed press conference on Friday in Geneva, hours before the organization reported that the number of infections worldwide climbed in the last 24 hours by roughly 25,000 to 234,073.
Fatalities increased by around 800 on Thursday to 9,840. "This virus could put you in the hospital for weeks or even kill you," Ghebreyesus said.
"Even if you don't get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else," he added. Ghebreyesus said that self-restraint could save lives.
"Solidarity is the key to defeating COVID-19. Solidarity between countries but also between age groups," he added. "Every loss of life is a tragedy. It is also a motivation to double down and do everything we can to stop transmission and save lives."
The head of the WHO acknowledged that the drop in coronavirus cases in China was good news for all countries. "Yesterday, Wuhan reported no new cases for the first time since the outbreak started. Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world," he added. "Of course we must exercise caution. The situation can reverse but the experience of cities and countries that have pushed back this virus gives hope and courage," said the WHO chief.
During his speech, Ghebreyesus said health authorities were learning more about the virus day by day.
"One of the things we are learning is that although older people are the hardest-hit and younger people are not spared," he added.
He continued that the experience of many countries had proved that many patients under 50 who are infected "required hospitalization".
Ghebreyesus recommended anyone under lockdown to maintain healthy habits, such as not smoking, doing exercise and, if they are still allowed to go out, taking walks while keeping a distance with others.
He added that citizens must only trust reliable information regarding coronavirus figures and possible treatments.
"COVID-19 is taking so much from us, but it's also giving us something special: the opportunity to come together as one humanity, to work together, to learn together and to grow together," he said.