A dire lack of protective gear for health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most pressing threats in the fight to prevent deaths, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Friday.
“The chronic global shortage of personal protective equipment is now one of the most urgent threats to our collective ability to save lives,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference in Geneva.
He said the WHO had shipped almost two million individual items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 74 countries and was preparing to send a similar amount to a further 60 countries.
“This problem can only be solved with international cooperation and solidarity,” said Tedros.
He said he had urged the G20 countries to use their “industrial might and innovation” to produce and distribute the tools needed to save more lives.
“We must also make a promise to future generations, saying: ‘never again’,” Tedros added.
The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 25 000 people, with Europe accounting for most of the deaths, according to an AFP tally based on official statistics.
About 550 000 cases have been registered around the world since the outbreak began in China in December.
Tedros said that more than 100 000 people had now had the virus and recovered.
He added: “We’re only at the beginning of this fight. We need to stay calm, stay united and work together.”