WHO Director General on Coronavirus: ‘World Should Have Listened to WHO … Carefully’

WHO Director General on Coronavirus: ‘World Should Have Listened to WHO … Carefully’


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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While Donald Trump has sharply criticized the World Health Organization’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the organization was actually ringing the early alarm on the global emergency, according to the chief of the WHO.

Trump has said that he would pull US funding for the WHO, after repeatedly pointing fingers at the UN agency dedicated to international public health in order to deflect attention from the slow response by his own administration.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus painted a very different picture, one where the organization have its best advice based “on the best science and evidence.”

“Maybe one example is, as you remember, on January 30, we declared the highest level of emergency, global emergency, on COVID, COVID-19. Based on the international health regulation, WHO can declare the highest level of global emergency, and we did that on January 30,” said Ghebreyesus. “During that time, as you may remember, there were only 82 cases outside China, no cases in Latin America actually, no cases in Africa, only 10 cases in Europe, no cases in the rest of the world– nothing. So, the world should have listened to WHO then carefully, because global emergency, the highest level of emergency, was triggered on January 30 when we only had 82 cases and no deaths in the rest of the world, and every country could have triggered all its public health measures possible. I think that suffices the importance of listening to WHO’s advice.

“And then we advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach and we said, ‘Find, test, isolate, and do contact tracing and so on.’ You can check for yourselves, countries who have followed that are in a better position than others. This is fact.”

At this point, there have been more than 3.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. The virus has killed more than 215,000. 

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