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“A million individual tragedies” – IFRC statement as official COVID-19 death toll hits 1 million

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Geneva, 28 September 2020 – The following is attributable to Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC):

“Today, we stand in grim solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of families that have lost loved ones. A million deaths represent 1 million individual tragedies and countless heartbreaks. They represent many, many thousands of orphans, of widows, of holes in families and community fabrics that will never be filled. They also represent countless health care workers and frontline responders, including many Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff, who have lost their lives.

“We know that this is just one more sad milestone in the tragedy that is COVID-19. This is without a doubt one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes in recent times. So today we pause in grief. Yet we continue with our work.

“As we have all learned since the start of this pandemic, there is no quick fix. The best advice remains the same as it has been for months: we can lessen and even contain this virus when we adhere to basic public health measures. These include social distancing, the proper use of face masks, good hand hygiene, and robust contact tracing. Where these and other measures are followed, we have seen, and will continue to see, progress.

“Equally important is ensuring that at-risk communities are engaged and listened to. Their beliefs, worries and fears need to be understood and acted upon. Trust between communities and authorities will be crucial to ending this pandemic. And of course, as we focus around the clock on responding to the outbreak in every corner of the world, we need to be planning for the support that millions of people will need to rebuild their lives even once this illness is finally defeated.”

ENDS

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IFRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have reached tens of millions of people in nearly every country around the world with a range of services, including health care, water and sanitation, mental health support and community engagement activities.