Top News

Selected quotes as COVID-19 pandemic reaches new milestone

(Reuters) - Here is a selection of quotes from world leaders and ordinary people about the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has now killed more than 1 million people.

A social distancing sign is pictured amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Warrington, Britain September 22, 2020. REUTERS/Molly Darlington/Files


- Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Sept. 4:

“In the absence of a vaccine, we may have to live this way for years.”


- President Jair Bolsonaro, after testing positive for COVID-19, July 7:

“If I had taken hydroxychloroquine preventively, I would still be working (instead of heading into quarantine).”

“I trust in hydroxychloroquine. And you?”

When asked by journalists about the latest death toll, April 28:

“So what? I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do?”

After touring streets in the suburbs of Brasilia without a mask, March 29:

“This is the reality: the virus is there. We have to face it, but face it like a man, damn it, not like a kid. We’ll confront the virus with reality. That’s life. We’re all going to die one day.”


- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asked about the risks of a second surge in infections, July 31:

“We’re now seeing a warning light on the dashboard ... Our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.”

In an interview with The Sun newspaper after falling seriously ill and recovering from COVID-19, May 2:

“It was a tough old moment, I won’t deny it. They had a strategy to deal with a ‘death of Stalin’-type scenario. I was not in particularly brilliant shape and I was aware there were contingency plans in place.”

“The doctors had all sorts of arrangements for what to do if things went badly wrong.”

- Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer, Sept. 21:

“The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.”

- Heidi Larson, professor at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Sept. 10:

“There’s a lot of anxiety about the speed of vaccine development (for COVID-19). But the public is not really keen on speed - they’re more keen on thoroughness, effectiveness and safety.”


- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Sept 23:

“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”


- President Xi Jinping, in a pre-recorded address to United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 22:

“We should enhance solidarity and get through this together. We should follow the guidance of science, give full play to the leading role of the World Health Organization and launch a joint international response ... Any attempt of politicizing the issue, or stigmatization, must be rejected.”


- President Emmanuel Macron, during a visit to an elderly care home, Sept. 22:

“We must as long as possible allow our fellow citizens in nursing homes to continue having interactions. We want to avoid the radical and massive response we made in March-April when we had less understanding of the virus and had fewer tests available.”

- Aminata Diene, 31, a striking French laboratory worker, handling COVID-19 tests, Sept. 17

“We’re overwhelmed ... We can’t be on the phone, physically greeting patients and carrying out tests all at once. We’re exhausted, physically and mentally.”

- French mother Laure Gevaert, dropping off her daughter Emma at her junior high school near Paris, Sept 1:

“I prefer her to be going to school. It’s not easy home-schooling, and I have to work too ... If there are cases at the school, that will worry me. (Then) I won’t send her in.”


- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech. Aug. 15:

“Not one, not two, but as many as three coronavirus vaccines are being tested in India ... Along with mass-production, the roadmap for distribution of vaccine to every single Indian in the least possible time is also ready.”


- Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, 83, on being discharged from hospital after being treated for COVID-19, Sept. 14:

“I said to myself, with satisfaction, ‘You have got away with it again’.”

- Pope Francis, Sept. 4:

“It (the pandemic) has called into question the scale of values that sets money and power over all else ... It has toppled the shaky pillars that supported a certain model of development.”

- Silvia Bertuletti, 48, from Bergamo in northern Italy. Her 78-year-old father died on March 19 from COVID-19, April 5:

“My father was left to die alone, at home, without help. We were simply abandoned. No one deserves an end like that.”


- World record sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, who tested positive for COVID-19 after celebrating his 34th birthday, Aug. 24:

“Just to be safe I quarantined myself and just taking it easy.”


- President Vladimir Putin, in address to UN General Assembly, Sept. 22:

“We are ready to share experience and continue cooperating with all states and international entities, including in supplying the Russian vaccine which has proved reliable, safe, and effective, to other countries.”


Restaurant owner Teofilo Jimenez complaining of new restrictions, Sept. 22:

“Because if they put restrictions in one neighbourhood but then you can go to work in another neighbourhood, then you can take the virus here and there ... It is pointless. They tell us to stay open but tell people to stay home ... How will I cover my costs?”

- Father-of-two Richard Moreno, happy to see his kids return to school, Sept. 8:

“It gives us hope because after being locked up so long, look how happy they are to see each other again. It’s marvellous.”


- President Donald Trump, in remarks delivered remotely to the U.N. General Assembly, Sept. 22:

“We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world, China ... The Chinese government, and the World Health Organization – which is virtually controlled by China – falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

“Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease ... The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.”

April 23:

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that.”

Feb. 27:

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

Jan. 22:

“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

- Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Joe Biden, Sept. 17:

“The idea that there’s going to be a vaccine and everything’s gonna be fine tomorrow - it’s just not rational.”

Sept. 9:

“He (Trump) knew (about the dangers posed by COVID-19), and purposefully played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people... And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job - on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”

- Dr. Andrew Pastewski, ICU medical director at Jackson South Medical Center in Miami, July 10:

“It’s just disheartening because the selfishness of (not wearing a mask) versus the selflessness of my staff and the people in this hospital who are putting themselves at risk, and I got COVID from this.”


- Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, urging Swedes to stay alert, Sept. 24:

“The caution that existed in the spring has more and more been replaced by hugs and parties, bus trips in rush-hour traffic, and an everyday life that, for many, seems to return to normal. What we do right now, we will be glad of later. What we do wrong now, we will suffer for later,” Lofven added.

Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Compiled by Gareth Jones; Editing by Mike Collett-White