The Director-General of the World Health Organization admonished the world’s “slow” reaction to the coronavirus outbreak though his organization downplayed the seriousness of the now-global pandemic months ago.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is under fire for remarks on Wednesday saying the “world was slow to react to the coronavirus” even though he previously praised China’s handling of the outbreak and WHO officials claimed in January the virus could not be passed by human-to-human contact.
(Source: Fox Business)
“The time to act was actually more than a month ago, two months ago. That’s what we have been saying,” he said at a news briefing. “But we still believe that there is opportunity.”
“I think we squandered the first window of opportunity but we are saying today,” Tedros added. “This is a second opportunity that we should not squander.”
But back in January, WHO claimed there was no evidence that the coronavirus could be spread from person to person.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the virus does indeed spread from human contact and now, nearly half a million people around the globe have been infected with the illness which has also led to over 22,000 deaths, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Earlier this month, Tedros caused a panic after he claimed that the fatality rate from COVID-19 was much higher than that caused by the common flu.
“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease,” the Director-General of the WHO said in a press conference on March 3.
An opinion piece in The Hill last week contended that Tedros should “be held accountable for recklessly managing this deadly pandemic.”
University of Texas-San Antonio professor, Henry Thayer, and Lianchao Han, the vice president of Citizens Power Initiatives for China, called Tedros out for praising China’s response to the outbreak which originated in Wuhan, accusing the Ethiopian politician of turning a “blind eye” to the role the communist nation played in allowing the virus to spread.
“Tedros apparently turned a blind eye to what happened in Wuhan and the rest of China and, after meeting with Xi in January, has helped China to play down the severity, prevalence and scope of the COVID-19 outbreak,” they wrote, accusing him of using “the WHO platform to defend the Chinese government’s gross violation of human rights.”
“From the outset, Tedros has defended China despite its gross mismanagement of the highly contagious disease. As the number of cases and the death toll soared, the WHO took months to declare the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, even though it had met the criteria of transmission between people, high fatality rates and worldwide spread,” they added.
WHO thanks the Chinese authorities for their commitment to sharing information on the novel #coronavirus (2019-nC0V) as they continue intensive surveillance and follow-up measures, including environmental investigations in #China🇨🇳 pic.twitter.com/ZOTCqsGTCr
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 11, 2020
Even Taiwan accused the World Health Organization of ignoring early warnings due to its relationship with China.
“While the IHR’s internal website provides a platform for all countries to share information on the epidemic and their response, none of the information shared by our country’s [Centers for Disease Control] is being put up there,” Taiwanese Vice President Chen Chien-Jen told the Financial Times last week.
Meanwhile, Tedros, who served as Ethiopia’s health minister from 2005 to 2012, has come under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, much as he did in 2017 over his mishandling of the cholera epidemics in Ethiopia and Sudan.
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