Pandemic “Far From Over” in Asia-Pacific Region: WHO

Medical workers screen patients for COVID-19 before allowing them into a hospital in Quezon City, the Philippines on March 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

MANILA (Xinhua) — The COVID-19 pandemic is “far from over” in Asia and the Pacific, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday, urging countries in the region to work together to halt the spread of COVID-19.

“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,” WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai told a virtual media briefing.

Kasai said the WHO is very much encouraged by the countries in the region that have pushed back the virus or managed to slow their epidemics.

“For countries that are seeing case taper off, this is not the time to let down your guard. If you do, the virus will come surging back. You must keep up your efforts and help other countries in whatever ways you can,” he said.


Kasai urged countries to keep preparing for large-scale community transmission.

He said that countries with limited resources and with fragile health systems such as Pacific Island nations are the priority, stressing the need to help these countries by shipping samples for diagnoses.

As of March 31, WHO data showed that the Western Pacific region now has tallied a total of 104,869 COVID-19 cases, including 3,671 deaths.

WHO technical adviser Matthew Griffith said in the briefing that the global community can learn from the experiences of China on how to slow down the spread of the virus.


“This experience is also needed here in our region especially now that new countries and areas are reporting, including Laos, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands,” he said, adding that it means that “the risk of the epidemic remains high in all countries and areas.”

The Philippines on Tuesday recorded 538 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day jump in cases since the virus emerged in the Philippines, bringing the total number of COVID-19 patients to 2,084.

In a virtual media briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 88 patients have died and 49 recovered.