'World should have listened to WHO' on virus: Director

‘World should have listened to WHO’ on virus: Director

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Geneva: The Director General of the World Health Organization said on Monday that the agency has already exercised the highest level of vigilance against the new corona virus, but unfortunately not all countries have listened to its recommendations.

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.

The organization was heavily criticized by US President Donald Trump. Donald Trump suspended funding in Washington earlier this month after accusing the WHO of downplaying the severity of the epidemic and paying tribute to China. The new coronavirus first appeared in China late last year.

Trump has not provided any evidence to support his claim.

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.”

Tedros pointed out that when the World Health Organization announced on January 30 that the new corona virus “represents the utmost urgency … any country can activate all of its public health measures.”

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

“We advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach, and we said find, test, isolate, and do contact tracing,” he said.

“You can check for yourselves: countries who followed that are in a better position than others. This is fact.”

“It is up to the countries to reject or accept,” he said.

“Each country takes its own responsibility.”

According to official data collected by AFP on Monday, the pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 206,000 people and infected nearly 3 million people.

Of the nearly 1 million cases registered, the United States has the highest death toll, nearly 55,000.

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