The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus could unwittingly exacerbate shortages of essential protective gear and he will ask G20 leaders this week to increase production and avoid export bans. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed journalists at a press conference from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino shared the platform with Tedros and said world football's governing body would join the WHO in a video campaign titled ‘Pass the message to kick out coronavirus.’

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"Measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus may have unintended consequences by exacerbating shortages of essential protective gear and the materials needed to make them," said Tedros.

He noted that resolving this problem requires a global political commitment and political coordination.

"This week, I will be addressing heads of state and government from the G20 countries. Among other issues, I will be asking them to work together to increase production, avoid export bans and ensure equity of distribution on the basis of need.”

He noted that globally, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus had surpassed 300,000 at the weekend, describing it as "heartbreaking.”

"The pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases. You can see how the virus is accelerating.

"But we're not prisoners to statistics. We're not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic," said the WHO chief, using the analogy that a football game cannot be won only by defending, but attack is needed as well.

"Asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time – but they are defensive measures.

"To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics – testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and tracing and quarantining every close contact," said Tedros.

He said health workers could only do their jobs effectively when they can work safely and there are continuing "alarming reports" from around the world of large numbers of infections among health workers.

"Even if we do everything else right, if we don't prioritize protecting health workers, many people will die because the health worker who could have saved their life is sick," he said.

Addressing the global shortage of these life-saving tools means addressing "every part of the supply chain, from raw materials to finished product.”