Governance

‘Let me be blunt’: What’s bothering WHO chief on COVID-19

WHO Director-General expresses concern over rising cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

 
Published: Wednesday 15 July 2020

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was visibly upset with some world leaders June 13, 2020. The risk of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) poses was not properly conveyed by the leaders to their countries’ populations, he said.

More than 230,000 cases were reported to the WHO in a day, of which more than half were from the Americas, said Ghebreyesus, seemingly pointing towards Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump, the presidents of Brazil and the United States respectively.

Brazil recorded 39,023 new cases, while the US recorded 62,369 in the past one day.

Ghebreyesus also expressed concern over parts of Asia, especially South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. India accounted for nearly 29,000 of the 33,309 cases that emerged from this region.

“Let me be blunt. Too many countries are headed in the wrong direction. The virus remains public enemy number one but the actions of many governments and people do not reflect this,” he said.

“The only aim of the virus is to find people to infect. Mixed messages from leaders undermine the most critical ingredient of any response: Trust,” said Ghebreyesus.

The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 will get “worse, worse and worse” if governments did not clearly communicate with their citizens, he added.

Trump has been at loggerheads with scientists of the country’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci on many fronts, including the push towards reopening schools.

Brazil President Jair Bolsanaro — who earlier said COVID-19 was a mild flu — tested positive for the virus July 7.

Bolsonaro has downplayed the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, telling people to take hydroxychloroquine tablets as a cure. Scientists are unsure if the drug has any effect against the disease.

In India, a Union government minster recently claimed the world appreciated India’s response to COVID-19.

A big concern that emerged, however, was whether this statement instilled a false sense of complacency, as 20,000 fresh cases are being declared daily on an average in the country.

Ghebreyesus is concerned over the trajectory the virus will take in these countries in the coming weeks, given the mixed messaging being disseminated by those in power.

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