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World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. File photo: Reuters

Coronavirus: WHO chief Tedros in quarantine as global death toll hits 1.2 million

  • Tedros said he was feeling well and did not have any symptoms
  • WHO boss has been at the forefront of global efforts to fight the pandemic
The World Health Organization chief said that he was self-quarantining after someone he had been in contact with tested positive for Covid-19, but stressed he had no symptoms.

“I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for #COVID19,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet.

“I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home,” he added.

Tedros has been at the forefront of the United Nations health agency’s efforts to battle the pandemic.

Covid-19 has claimed more than 1.2 million lives and infected over 46.5 million people worldwide since it was first detected in China late last year.

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Tedros stressed on Twitter that “it is critically important that we all comply with health guidance.”

“This is how we will break chains of #COVID19 transmission, suppress the virus, and protect health systems.”

The 55-year-old former Ethiopian minister of health and foreign affairs has for months reiterated that each person has a role to play in halting the spread of the virus.

The WHO urges all individuals to be careful about handwashing, wearing masks and keeping a distance, while it calls on authorities at various levels to work to find, isolate, test and care for cases, then trace and quarantine their contacts.

His comments came as there is growing anger and exasperation over new coronavirus curbs as several European nations wound back the clocks to the spring with fresh lockdowns and restrictions aimed at halting galloping infections and deaths.

European governments were desperate to stem the worrying spike in infections. The continent has registered more than 279,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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Geneva, where WHO is headquartered, declared a fresh state of emergency on Sunday and said it would go beyond Swiss national measures and shut down all bars, restaurants and non-essential shops.

Authorities in the region of some 500,000 people said the new measures were needed due to surging cases – with more than 1,000 positive daily tests in recent days – and also ballooning numbers of Covid-19 patients in Geneva hospitals and emergency care units.


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WHO chief warns against politicising coronavirus pandemic as world sees highest weekly case number
The UK government said a new four-week coronavirus lockdown in England would be extended if it failed to reduce infection rates.

The second national lockdown, hastily announced late Saturday following warnings hospitals could be overwhelmed within weeks, was set to come into force from Thursday and end on December 2.

Under the new rules unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, people must stay at home except in cases where exemptions apply, such as for work, education or exercise.

The ramped-up response came as Britain surpassed one million cases, after announcing nearly 22,000 new infections on Saturday.

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Tighter lockdown rules were also set to kick in Monday for Belgium, which has the most Covid-19 cases per capita in the world. Portugal, too, has ordered a partial lockdown starting Wednesday.

In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex said that supermarkets would be barred from selling “non-essential” items from Tuesday to protect small shopkeepers who have been forced to close.

Spain has already imposed a nighttime curfew, and almost all of its regions have implemented regional border closures to prevent long-distance travel.

To curb the spike in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered a round of shutdowns from Monday until the end of the month.

Germans will not be confined to their homes, but bars, cafes and restaurants must close, as well as theatres, operas and cinemas.

The health situation was also deteriorating in the United States, which under President Donald Trump has become one of the harshest critics of WHO and its leader over the Covid-19 response.

Trump is pulling the US out of the WHO, accusing it of being a “puppet” of China and of mismanaging its handling of the global pandemic.

The US was still the worst-affected country with more than 230,000 deaths and 9.2 million cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: WHO chief in quarantine after contact tests positiveHO chief Tedros in quarantine after contact with Covid-19 case