According to the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency had triggered the alarm of the novel coronavirus early on, but not all countries took its advice.
Tedros also pointed out that on 30 January WHO warned that the COVID-19 outbreak constituted a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. At the time there were reportedly no deaths and only 82 cases registered outside China.
“The world should have listened to WHO then, carefully,” he said in a virtual press briefing.
“We do not have any mandate to force countries… to take our advice.”
Tedros insisted that the UN health agency had provided trustworthy advice from the start “based on the best science and evidence”.
The rising numbers of cases and deaths in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries is a concern to the WHO, even as the numbers flatten or decline in some wealthier nations.
“We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do,” Tedros said, adding that a second wave of infections could be prevented with the right actions.