The catchy phrase “hugs not drugs” never anticipated going up against the coronavirus global COVID-19. Now, even “hugs” is a no-go zone. The World Health Organization has one straight-forward request: don’t hug. “To stop the spread of the coronavirus, WHO’s emergencies chief said Monday that the ‘shocking’ rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths, particularly in the U.S., means that people shouldn’t get too close to their loved ones this year” reports the Associated Press.
In a news conference, the question was raised as to whether or not hugs should be considered “close contact.” WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 said transmission generally occurs when people spend a lot of time together in indoor spaces such as work or home, and share meals. However, it can be difficult to “disentangle” exactly how the virus is spread.
Nonetheless, Dr. Michael Ryan said, “it’s a horrible thing to think that we would be here as the World Health Organization saying to people, ‘Don’t hug each other.’ It’s terrible.” However, “that is the brutal reality in places like the United States right now” he added. “The epidemic in the U.S. is punishing. It’s widespread” said Ryan.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States has “recorded more than 280,000 coronavirus deaths to date.” Dr. Ryan says, “it’s quite frankly, shocking, to see one to two persons a minute die in the U.S. – a country with a wonderful, strong health system (and) amazing technological capacities.”
WHO’s director of vaccines, Dr. Kate O’Brien “warned that while new immunization campaigns to combat COVID-19 should help slow the pandemic, ‘having vaccines is not going to be a switch’ that means an automatic end to the pandemic” according to the AP.