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Director on COVID-19: World should have listened to WHO

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The World Health Organization’s director-general said that the agency had sounded the highest level of alarm over the novel coronavirus early on, but lamented that not all countries had heeded its advice.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that the WHO warned the COVID-19 outbreak constituted a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on January 30, when there were no deaths and only 82 cases registered outside China.

“The world should have listened to WHO then, carefully,” he told a virtual press briefing.

Tedros insisted that the UN health agency had provided sound advice from the beginning “based on the best science and evidence”.

But he stressed though that “we do not have any mandate to force countries… to take our advice.”

When the WHO announced on January 30 that the novel coronavirus represented “the highest level of emergency… every country could have triggered all its public health measures,” Tedros pointed out.

“I think that suffices the importance of listening to WHO’s advice.”

Tedros said the pandemic is “far from over” and is still disrupting normal health services, especially life-saving immunisation for children in the poorest countries.

The WHO is concerned about rising numbers of cases and deaths in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries, even as the numbers flatten or decline in some wealthier nations.

“We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do,” Tedros said, adding that a second wave of infections could be prevented with the right actions.

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– Additional reporting Reuters

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Source: AFP

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