The World Health Organisation(WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized reporters on Monday(20) that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus pandemic.
“Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us,” Tedros told media from WHO headquarters in Geneva. “Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand.”
Some Asian and European governments have gradually eased or started to relax “lockdown” measures such as quarantines, school and business closures and restrictions on public gatherings, citing a decline in the growth of Covid-19 case counts and deaths.
Mr Tedros and his agency have been on the defensive after President Donald Trump of the United States the WHO’s biggest single donor last week ordered a halt to US funding to WHO, saying it had botched its early response to the outbreak.
Among other things, Mr Trump insisted the WHO had failed to adequately share information about the virus “in a timely and transparent” way after it erupted in China late last year.
Mr Tedros said: “There is no secret in WHO because keeping things confidential or secret is dangerous. It’s a health issue.”
“This virus is dangerous. It exploits cracks between us when we have differences,” he said.
Mr Tedros said staff from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention had been seconded to work with his agency, suggesting it was a sign of the WHO’s transparency.
In one of his starkest comparisons yet, the UN health agency chief also referred to the so-called Spanish flu more than a century ago, saying the coronavirus has a “very dangerous combination … like the 1918 flu that killed up to 100 million people.”
Mr Tedros called the illness “Public Enemy No. 1”.
He further said : “We have been warning from day one: This is a devil that everybody should fight.”
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