GENEVA: The World Health Organization said Friday (Mar 20) that the Chinese epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak at last reporting no new cases gave hope to the rest of the world battling the pandemic.
The city of Wuhan registered no new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours - for the first time since reporting its first case in December in an outbreak that has gone on to infect more than 250,000 people around the world and kill more than 11,000 people.
"Yesterday, Wuhan reported no new cases for the first time since the outbreak started," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference in Geneva.
"Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world that even the most severe situation can be turned around.
"Of course, we must exercise caution; the situation can reverse. But the experience of cities and countries that have pushed back this coronavirus gives hope and courage to the rest of the world."
Tedros said that although older people had been the hardest hit by the disease, younger people were not spared, saying they made up many of the sufferers needing hospital treatment.
"Today I have a message for young people: You are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks - or even kill you," he warned.
"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.
"I'm grateful that so many young people are spreading the word and not the virus."
He said solidarity between the generations was one of the keys to defeating the spread of the pandemic.
WHO also said it was now using the term "physical distancing" rather than "social distancing" to describe the need to maintain space between people to avoid the virus passing.
It said the change of emphasis was to stress that though people may need to go into physical isolation, they did not need to become socially isolated, saying it was important to maintain good mental health during the crisis.
"We can keep connected in many ways without physically being in the same space," Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads the WHO's emerging diseases unit, said.
"We want people to still remain connected."