NATIONS-The World Health Organization (WHO), has warned young people that they are not exempted from the risks of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 210,000 people worldwide and left more than 11,000 dead.

“Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible.” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday during a news conference in Geneva.

“This coronavirus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else,” Tedros said. So far most warnings about the novel coronavirus have focused on vulnerable populations, including older adults and those with underlying conditions.

But WHO officials said data from many countries clearly shows that people younger than 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization.

Tedros’ comments come after earlier research indicated young adults were largely spared from serious complications from the coronavirus, and adults older than 60 and those with underlying medical conditions, like diabetes or heart and lung disease, were mostly at risk.

He said he is grateful so many people are, “spreading the word and not the virus,” adding, “everyday, we are learning more about this coronavirus and the disease it causes. One of the things we are learning is that although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared.”

WHO said it is concerned if COVID-19 should gain a foothold in countries with weaker health systems, or with vulnerable populations, noting that it could lead to significant sickness and loss of life.

“But that is not inevitable”, Tedros said. “Unlike any pandemic in history, we have the power to change the way this goes”.

Citing that Wuhan, a city in China, where coronavirus originated, reported no new cases for the first time since the outbreak started, he said that that “provides hope for the rest of the world, that even the most severe situation can be turned around”. While WHO is working actively to support all countries, the collapse of the personal protective equipment (PPE) market “has created extreme difficulties in ensuring health workers have access to the equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively”, the WHO chief said. click here.

Fortunately, he said, producers in China have agreed to supply WHO with PPE and arrangements are underway for shipments.

“We are also working hard to increase the global supply of diagnostic tests”, Tedros said, noting that WHO is working to evaluate new diagnostics and secure the supply and equitable distribution of tests.

In closing, the WHO chief acknowledged that “COVID-19 is taking so much from us”.

“But”, he added “it’s also giving us something special – the opportunity to come together as one humanity – to work together, to learn together, to grow together”.