• Friday, Aug 19, 2022
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WHO: Don't squander sacrifices of 2020

  • Published at 07:43 pm December 25th, 2020
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
File photo: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference, in Geneva Switzerland on July 3, 2020 Reuters

'As 2020 draws to an end, a pandemic of historic proportions is preventing many of us from celebrating in the ways we would like'

The sacrifices made to protect people during the coronavirus pandemic must not be squandered over the festive period, the World Health Organization's (WHO) chief said in a Christmas message.

Millions were making "heart-wrenching sacrifices" by staying away from loved ones on Christmas Day, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a video clip posted to Twitter, while others will have a missing face at the family table.

He said vaccines, now beginning to be deployed in countries around the world, were starting to offer a way out of the crisis that has engulfed the planet this year.

"As 2020 draws to an end, a pandemic of historic proportions is preventing many of us from celebrating in the ways we would like," Tedros said.

"Instead, hundreds of millions of people are today making great, heart-wrenching sacrifices by staying apart to stay safe.

"But in doing so, they are giving the most precious gifts: the gifts of life and health."

"All around the world, throughout this most trying of years, we have seen over and over again the sacrifices of so many people to protect and preserve life," said Tedros.

"We must not squander their sacrifices, nor those made by so many families who, this holiday season, will sit at family tables missing a familiar face.

According to the WHO's overview of different candidate vaccines, 61 have entered human trials, 16 of which have reached final-stage mass testing.

A further 172 candidate vaccines are being developed in laboratories with a view to eventual human testing.

1.75 million dead

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1.75 million people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, while almost 79.8 million cases have been registered on Friday, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 337,066 deaths, followed by Brazil with 190,032, India with 147,128, Mexico with 121,172, and Italy with 70,900.

On Friday, hundreds of millions across the world celebrated pared-down Christmas festivities due to coronavirus restrictions, as Pope Francis appealed for people to show "fraternity" faced with crises aggravated by the pandemic.

In Europe, where a new strain of coronavirus believed to spread much faster has emerged in Britain, on Friday passed 25 million confirmed cases.

Last week it became the first global region where more than 500,000 people have died of the virus.

In Asia, churches across South Korea stood largely empty, with worshippers congregating online as the country reported a new daily caseload record.