In the WHO’s daily media briefing, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus began by noting the scale of the coronavirus pandemic, with 20 million confirmed cases and 750,000 deaths expected by the end of this week.
However, he added that there were reasons to be hopeful in the global fight against the disease.
“I know many of you are grieving and that this is a difficult moment for the world,” Dr Tedros said.
“But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope and no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it’s never too late to turn the Covid-19 outbreak around.”
The health chief praised New Zealand as a “global exemplar” for its response to the pandemic, after the country celebrated 100 days with no community transmission of Covid-19 on Sunday.
Dr Tedros also praised Boris Johnson for his government’s decision to implement local lockdowns in the UK and France’s Emmanuel Macron for the introduction of compulsory face-masks in some outdoor areas in Paris.
“Over the last few days, UK prime minister Boris Johnson put areas of northern England under stay at home notifications as clusters of cases were identified,” he said.
“In France, President Emmanuel Macron introduced compulsory masking in busy outdoor spaces of Paris in response to an increase in cases.”
The WHO head added: “Strong and precise measures like these, in combination with utilising every tool at our disposal, are key to preventing any resurgence in Covid-19 and allowing societies to be reopened safely.”