New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) should have declared the new coronavirus outbreak in China an international emergency earlier than January 30, 2020, but the next month was lost as countries failed to take strong measures to halt the spread of the respiratory pathogen, a COVID-19 pandemic review panel said on Wednesday, media reports said quoting PTI.
It also recommended the setting up of a new transparent global system for probing disease outbreaks, empowering WHO to deploy investigators at a short notice and reveal findings..
The independent experts, in a major report on the handling of the pandemic, called for bold WHO reforms and revitalising national preparedness plans to prevent another “toxic cocktail”.
“It is critical to have an empowered WHO,” panel co-chair and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark told reporters on the launch of the report “COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic,” the report added.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, was allowed to evolve into a “catastrophic pandemic” that has killed more than 3.4 million people and devastated the world economy, the report said.
“The situation we find ourselves in today could have been prevented,” said Johnson Sirleaf. “It is due to a myriad of failures, gaps and delays in preparedness and response.”
Praising the “unstinting” efforts of WHO leadership and staff during the pandemic, it did not lay specific blame on China or on WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. However, it said that a WHO director-general should be limited to a single seven-year term, to avoid political pressure.