With Europe and North America witnessing spikes in new COVID-19 cases and deaths, the World Health Organization warned on Monday that countries should not count on magic solutions to get ahead and stay ahead of the virus, but on hard work.
Last week, the largest number of COVID-19 cases was reported since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in late December.
The WHO said many countries in the northern hemisphere have seen a concerning rise in cases and in hospitalizations, with some intensive care units filling up, particularly in Europe and North America.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that a number of world leaders critically evaluated the situation and took action at the weekend to limit the spread of the virus, clearly referring to several European Union nations.
Countries including Italy, Spain, Belgium, and France have tightened restrictions in recent days in a bid to bring down the number of virus transmissions.
"No one wants more so-called lockdowns, but if we want to avoid them, we all have to play our part," Tedros said during a virtual news conference from Geneva. "The fight back against this pandemic is everyone's business."
Tedros emphasized that everyone must make trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices.
"For individuals, families and communities, that means staying at home and especially if you have been exposed to a case," he said, reiterating the need to socially distance, wear a face mask, frequently wash hands, and avoid crowds.
He called on governments to "know your epidemic" in order to break chains of transmissions while testing extensively, isolating and caring for those infected, and tracing and providing supported quarantine for people who have been in contact with an infected person.
"With these measures, you can catch up to this virus, you can get ahead of this virus, and you can stay ahead of this virus," he said.
"There aren't magic solutions to this outbreak, just hard work from leaders at all levels of societies, health workers, contact tracers, and individuals."
He said many countries and cities have followed the science, suppressed the virus, and minimized deaths.
"From Dakar to Melbourne, Milan to Islamabad, New York to Beijing, when leaders act quickly and deliberately, the virus can be suppressed," Tedros said.
He said where there has been political division at the national level, where there has been blatant disrespect for science and health professionals, confusion has grown and cases and deaths have mounted.
"This is why I have said repeatedly: stop the politicization of COVID-19," Tedros said. "A pandemic is not a political football. Wishful thinking or deliberate diversion will not prevent transmissions or save lives."
While the WHO chief did not name any country, his message was seen as being directed toward nations including the United States, where the pandemic response has become a sharply divisive issue between Republicans and Democrats in an election year.
The U.S. reported daily new cases exceeding 80,000 during the weekend, bringing its total cases to 8.64 million. Total deaths have surpassed 225,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
On Monday, President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet the worsening pandemic in the U.S. was a "Fake News Media Conspiracy", saying the high number of cases there was down to the U.S. testing more.
He wrote: "Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high. On November 4th, topic will totally change.
Last week, Trump, who has continued campaign at rallies without social distancing and mandatory mask wearing, called the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, a "disaster", triggering anger from both political parties.