A WHO senior official gave out a starch warning that the COVID-19 pandemic is “far from over” in the Asia-Pacific region, adding that states have to “keep preparing for large-scale community transmission.”
Newsweek reports that based on available data, the U.S. has now overtaken China as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, though there are questions around the reliability of figures released by Beijing.
Other Asian countries have also recorded low rates of infection when compared to states in the West, notably the U.S., Italy, and Spain. South Korea, for example, has tested its population aggressively to locate and contain the spread of infection.
Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said at a press conference on Tuesday that while he is encouraged by the efforts to push back against the virus, the “risk will not go away as long as the pandemic continues.”
“The special situation was met with special measures over the past three months to protect the population. Fortunately—with the exception of the initial situation in Hubei Province, China—this Region has not yet seen large-scale community transmission of COVID-19,” Kasai said.
“Rather, in recent days, eyes have been fixed on the rapid spread of the virus in Western Europe and North America, which are now seen as the new epicenter of the pandemic,” Kasai continued. “But let me be clear: the epidemic is far from over in Asia and the Pacific. This is going to be a long-term battle, and we cannot let down our guard.”
“We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation, and at the same time, we need every country to keep preparing for large-scale community transmission. And if we want every country to prepare and respond, we need to do it together,” he concluded.