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'We cannot give up,' WHO chief Ghebreyesus says of pandemic fight

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ comment came a day after US President Donald Trump's chief of staff told CNN that the administration's focus had moved to mitigation, not stamping out the virus.

FILE: World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Picture: @WHO/Twitter.

GENEVA - The World Health Organisation (WHO) chief insisted Monday that it was still possible to rein in COVID-19 even in places with surging outbreaks, warning against giving up the fight.

"We must not give up," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing.

He acknowledged that after months of battling the new coronavirus, which has claimed more than 1.1 million lives globally, a certain level of "pandemic fatigue" had set in.

"It's tough and the fatigue is real," Tedros said.

But we cannot give up," he added, urging leaders to "balance the disruption to lives and livelihoods".

"When leaders act quickly, the virus can be suppressed," he insisted.

His comment came a day after US President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN that the administration's focus had moved to mitigation, not stamping out the virus.

"We're not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigations," Meadows said, comparing the more deadly COVID-19 to the seasonal flu.

Tedros said that giving up on virus controls was "dangerous."

When asked about the comments, WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan insisted that while mitigation of the effects of the pandemic were vital, efforts to beat the virus could not be abandoned.

"We should not give up on trying to suppress transmission," he said.

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