India can use experience in eradicating small pox, polio to fight covid19: WHO

India led the world in eradicating two silent killers and eliminating them from the country

Geneva: India, which led the world in eradicating two silent killers — smallpox and polio — has a tremendous capacity in eradicating the deadly coronoavirus pandemic that has now claimed nearly 15,000 lives and infected over three lakh others globally, according to a top WHO official.

The executive director of the World Health Organisation, Michael Ryan, said India, the world's second most populous country, has a tremendous capacity to deal with the coronavirus outbreak as it has the experience of eradicating the small-pox and polio through targeted public intervention.

"India led the world in eradicating two silent killers and eliminating them from the country," he said during a press conference in Geneva on Monday on the COVIVD-19 pandemic.

India, through targeted public intervention, ended smallpox and gave a great gift to the world. India also eradicated polio, he noted.

"India has tremendous capacities. It is exceptionally important that countries like India lead the way to show the world what can be done," Ryan said.

"India led the world in eradicating two silent killers, small-pox and polio so India has a tremendous capacity," Ryan said.

"There are no easy answers. It is exceptionally important that countries like India show the way to the world as they have done before," he said.

Diseases such as polio and smallpox, which once claimed many lives in India, have been defeated with targeted public interventions. While India attained the polio-free status in 2014, the country got rid of smallpox in 1977.

Ryan's remarks came as the WHO said the number of deaths due to the coronavirus soared to 14,652, with more than 334,000 people infected worldwide.

India has reported 492 cases of coronavirus and nine deaths, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday. The total number of active COVID-19 cases across the country now stands at 446, after over 22 fresh cases were reported, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday warned that the coronavirus pandemic was clearly "accelerating" but said it was still possible to "change the trajectory" of the outbreak.

"The pandemic is accelerating," Tedros told journalists in a virtual news briefing.

He said it took 67 days from the beginning of the outbreak in China in late December for the virus to infect the first 100,000 people worldwide.

In comparison, it took 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases, he said.

"The #COVID19 pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the 1st reported case to reach the first 100K cases, 11 days for the second 100K cases & just 4 days for the third 100K cases.

"These numbers matter, these are people, whose lives & families have been turned upside down," Tedros tweeted later.

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

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