Current DateSeptember 28, 2021

COVID-19: too many countries “going in the wrong direction”, warns WHO

The World Health Organization warned on Monday that many countries were not taking the right steps to respond to the pandemic, following a record day of 230,000 new cases of coronavirus.

“I want to be frank with you: there will be no return to the old normal for the foreseeable future”, underlined the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during a virtual press conference. “The virus remains the number one public enemy, but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this,” he said, before assuring, “Too many countries are going in the wrong direction.”

“Conflicting messages from leaders undermine the most essential ingredient of any response: trust,” he added, without citing their names.

The WHO chief once again called on governments to communicate clearly with their citizens and put in place a comprehensive strategy to eliminate transmission and save lives, while asking people to follow the multiple barrier gestures , such as respecting the distance, washing your hands and wearing a mask, and isolating yourself if they were sick.

“If basic principles are not followed, this pandemic can only go in one direction. It will get worse and worse,” he said.

Nearly 600,000 people dead worldwide

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 569,000 people worldwide since the WHO China office reported the disease in late December.

The United States, which recorded its first death linked to the coronavirus in early February, is the country most affected in terms of number of deaths and cases, followed by Brazil.

“The epicenter of the virus is still on the American continent, where more than 50% of cases have been recorded worldwide,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We all hope there will be an effective vaccine, but we must focus on using the tools we currently have to suppress transmission and save lives,” he added.

Mr. Ghebreyesus also called for “accelerating scientific work, finding common solutions and setting up a coherent and united global response”.

WHO experts in quarantine

WHO has itself been widely criticized by some, especially by US President Donald Trump, for its handling of the pandemic?

The United States, which officially launched the withdrawal procedure from the WHO on July 7, accuses it of having been slow to react and above all having been too complacent with China.

Washington, however, welcomed the fact that a WHO fact-finding mission was sent to China last weekend. These two experts — an epidemiologist and an animal health specialist — must prepare the ground for a broader mission which will determine the origin of the coronavirus.

“The team is already working, but remotely because it is in quarantine,” as provided for in the Chinese procedure, said WHO Director of the Health Emergency Management Program, Michael Ryan.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Chunying Hua told reporters in Beijing that a “basic consensus” had been reached with the WHO, “that finding the origin is a scientific question”.

She also said that for WHO, “the search for origin is an ever-evolving process that could involve more than one country and region.”