Member of Military Emergency Unit walk with special equipment to disinfect areas to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,…
Members of the Military Emergency Unit, walking with special equipment to disinfect areas to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, arrive at Abando train station, in Bilbao, northern Spain, March 23, 2020.

The head of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus pandemic is picking up speed and he is urging the world's top economies to step up production of protective gear for doctors and nurses.   

"We need unity among the G-20 countries who have more than 80% of the global GDP," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday. "If we don't prioritize protecting health workers, many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their lives is sick." 

He appealed to private citizens not to hold on to or stockpile equipment badly needed by those who risk their own safety to treat the sick.  

Tedros said the virus has spread to nearly every country and is spreading faster. He noted that it took 67 days for the first reported case to hit the 100,000 number, but 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000. 

"We are not helpless bystanders … we can change the trajectory of this pandemic," he said. 

Jennifer Nagle sews hospital masks as the spread of coronavirus disease continues, on day one of turning the "Detroit Sewn" facility into a production facility for hospital masks, in Pontiac, Michigan, March 23, 2020.

Coronavirus myth-busting 

There is still much experts don't know about the new coronavirus. While work continues on developing effective treatments and a vaccine, researchers are also looking into how heat and humidity affects the virus and how long it can live on what surfaces.  

The WHO is also in the myth-busting business. It wants people to know that you cannot get the coronavirus through mosquito bites, cold weather does not kill it, and eating garlic will not hurt you nor will it protect you. Also, home treatments including spraying yourself with bleach or alcohol or sticking your hands under ultraviolet light are not only useless against the virus, but harmful to the skin.  

The best way to prevent coronavirus, the WHO says, is using common sense such as hand-washing and social distancing. 

FIFA spreads the word 

Tedros is also recruiting stars from the world's most popular sport to spread the word to young people about the virus. 

While the coronavirus is riskiest in the elderly, it is not exclusive to people in their 60s and older. Health experts want to spread the word that younger people are susceptible, too. 

FILE - Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and FIFA President Gianni Infantino attend a press conference at WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 4, 2019.

The WHO and the Federation of International Football are teaming up for an information campaign to "kick" the virus even while all official games have been canceled.  

"FIFA has teamed up with WHO because health comes first," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Monday. "Some of the greatest players to have played the beautiful game have put their names to the campaign and are united in their desire to pass the message to kick out COVID-19." 

Authorities estimate more than 1.5 billion people have been ordered to shelter-in-place to try to stop the spread, and those who are not under mandatory lockdown are strongly urged to stay inside and practice social distancing as much as they can. 

One French government minister Monday lamented the large number of young people who are ignoring the recommendations and still packing beaches or whatever bar they find open. He called them "imbeciles."  

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