“The worst is yet to come”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) this week issued a serious warning that the “worst is yet to come” in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created much havoc in countries around the world. WHO Head, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was quoted in a BBC report as saying that the virus would infect many more people if Governments did not start to implement the right policies. His message remained: “Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine”.
According to the BBC report, more than 10 million cases have been recorded worldwide since the coronavirus emerged in China late last year. The number of patients who died is now above 500,000. Half of the world’s cases have been in the US and Europe, but COVID-19 cases are rapidly growing in the Americas.
The virus is also affecting South Asia and Africa, where it is not expected to peak until the end of July. Even here in Guyana, almost daily, there is an increase of cases and the end of the virus seems to be very far way.
Dr Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing on Monday: “We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is, this is not even close to being over”. He said that although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.
COVID-19 has really caught the world by surprise, and its massive economic and social impacts on countries will no doubt be felt in years to come. The deadly disease has a foothold across the globe and is now reaching countries that were already facing humanitarian crises because of conflict, natural disasters, and climate change.
Many of these countries were already facing tough economic times, and now with the challenge of battling COVID-19, one could only imagine how some of them will survive this difficult period. In fact, experts have suggested that some countries will enter into recession as the economic toll will be very heavy owing to job losses, closure of industries and overburdened healthcare systems, etc.
UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock had said that COVID-19 has already upended life in some of the world’s wealthiest countries. It is now reaching places where people live in warzones, cannot easily access clean water and soap, and have no hope of a hospital bed if they fall critically ill.
He added that to leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries to their fate would be both cruel and unwise. He noted that if the coronavirus was left to spread freely in these places, millions of people would be at high risk, whole regions would be tipped into chaos and the virus would have the opportunity to circle back around the globe.
We support the calls for UN member states to act now by committing to stem the impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries and containing the virus globally by giving the strongest possible support to the plan. Certainly, individual country responses are not enough; there is need for a major international response, hence the initiatives undertaken by the UN and other development partners are laudable as this now means there would be funding for crucial programmes aimed at bringing a halt to the disease.
As stated by the UN head, COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back.
That said, for us here, we are in a very unfortunate situation, where it is close to four months now and the results of the national elections are yet to be declared, even though it is clear as to who is the credible winner.
Our hope is that once the legal hurdles are crossed, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) would proceed immediately in making a declaration based on the figures coming out of the national recount. The current health crisis demands a legitimate government to be in place to get on with the task of providing relief for citizens, improving treatment and contact tracing, and expanding testing.
Guyana must continue to be vigilant and ensure that all steps are followed as laid out by the WHO to prevent the further spread of the disease. Citizens also have a very important role to play in ensuring they heed the advisories being issued by the health authorities.