A person wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks during a winter storm in Philadelphia, Monday, Feb…
FILE - A person wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks during a winter storm in Philadelphia, Feb. 1, 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted Monday that globally, the number of new coronavirus cases fell for the third consecutive week. 

At the agency’s regular news briefing conducted virtually from its headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while many nations are still seeing infections increasing, it is nonetheless encouraging news. 

Tedros said it shows the virus can be controlled, even with the new variants in circulation, and that with proven public health measures such as social distancing, the wearing of masks and good hygiene, infections can be prevented.   

FILE - Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, Jan. 21, 2021.

He warned, however, that the world has been at this point before, and it is no time to relax.

“Over the past year, there have been moments in almost all countries when cases declined, and governments opened up too quickly, and individuals let down their guard, only for the virus to come roaring back,” he noted. 

Tedros said that as vaccines are rolled out around the world, it is important to continue to take the precautions that keep people safe. He said controlling the spread of the virus saves lives now and reduces the chances of more variants emerging.  

“And it helps to ensure vaccines remain effective,” he said. 

Also at the briefing, WHO Emergencies Program Director Michael Ryan responded to a question regarding the WHO-led team currently studying the origins of the virus and early skepticism about what it may find.  

FILE - WHO Health Emergencies Program head Michael Ryan, July 3, 2020.

Commentators have raised doubts about what the investigators can discover this long after the fact and given China’s wavering cooperation with the investigation. 

Ryan took exception to those who have already said they would not accept the report from the team or that there may be other intelligence with different findings.  

”No other country has provided any documentary, intelligence or other information to WHO. We are out there looking for it. We are in the field with experts from 10 countries looking to find the answers. If you have the answers, if you think you have some answers, please let us know,” he said. 

Ryan said the team currently in the field in China represents not just WHO but the world community and deserves support. 
 

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