• There are no easy answers in reducing transmission and reducing peaks, says Dr Michael Ryan.
  • From individuals to governments, everyone needs to understand their responsibilities - and stick to them.
  • Otherwise the virus will continue to exploit weaknesses.

Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, had a clear message at the organization's 24 June media briefing:

"There are no silver bullets. There are no easy answers."

The scale of the challange was made clear by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "In the first month of this outbreak, less than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO," he said. "In the last month, almost 4 million cases have been reported."

An economic and social toll

Lockdowns and other measures to drive down tranmission have taken their toll on communities and economies around the world, Ryan said. "So, we must be able to reap the harvest of such a sacrifice to shut down and lock down and drive transmission to a low level."

That requires extreme vigilance, and communities and individuals staying on board and understanding their responsibilities and feeling empowered. Key to this is that authorities are able to detect cases quickly, isolate these cases and quarantine their contacts, he urged.

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What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

Governments need to examine themselves at every level and ask themselves 'are we capable of doing that?', he said. And every part of the system needs to be able to keep its promise to keep itself and others safe.

"Everyone has got to now live up to the promises they make, the commitments they make, and people at every level need to follow through," he said.

'The virus doesn't act alone'

Acting at every level also means using all the resources at our disposal to address the weaknesses the virus exploits - weak surveillance, weak health systems, poor governance, a lack of education.

"If we address those things systematically, the numbers will go down," Ryan said. "The numbers respond to response. There are no magic answers, there are no spells here. You can't divine this away."

And, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General also gave a stark reminder of the scale of the challenge:

"In the first month of this outbreak, less than 10,000 cases were reported to WHO," he said. "In the last month, almost 4 million cases have been reported."