WHO says COVID-19 emergency statement gave the world “enough time”

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GENEVA / LONDON (Reuters) – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus vigorously defended his actions and those of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday by declaring the new coronavirus an international health emergency in late January.

FILE PHOTO: The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019), in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 28, 2020. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse

The January 30 statement was made “enough time for the rest of the world to respond” as there were only 82 cases of infection and no deaths outside of China at this point, Tedros said in a statement. a virtual press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Tedros said that WHO, which is seeking to lead the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, had used the days before declaring the global emergency as the time to visit China to learn more about the new virus.

During the visit, they also won a “revolutionary agreement” with China to send investigators, said Tedros.

Tedros, when asked about relations with the United States – his largest donor who withdrew funding after criticizing WHO’s handling of the pandemic, said: “We are in fact in constant touch and we are working together. “

Confirming that the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly still a global health emergency, Tedros said he had “serious concerns about the potential impact” of the disease “as it begins to accelerate in countries where health systems are weaker. ”

WHO emergency chief Mike Ryan said the agency was seeing a worrying increase in COVID-19 cases in Haiti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan , in Sierra Leone and in northern Nigeria.

Ryan also said that while WHO recognizes that some countries are starting to consider easing the lockdowns, it is important that they are “constantly on the lookout for increased infections” and should be prepared to put some measures back in place if necessary. .

Tedros said WHO “will continue to work with countries and partners to enable essential travel necessary for pandemic response, humanitarian and cargo relief operations, and countries to gradually resume normal passenger travel “

“As we have clearly done from the start, we will continue to call on countries to implement a full set of measures to find, isolate, test and treat each case, and find every contact,” he said. declared.

Report by Kate Kelland and Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Toby Chopra

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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