WHO chief warns worst of pan­demic is still ahead

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Canada & World -

GENEVA—The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion chief warned Mon­day that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coro­n­avirus out­break, re­viv­ing the alarm just as many coun­tries ease re­stric­tive mea­sures aimed at re­duc­ing its spread.

WHO di­rec­tor-gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus didn’t spec­ify why he be­lieves the out­break that has in­fected some 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple and killed more than 166,000 could get worse. He and others, how­ever, have pre­vi­ously pointed to the likely fu­ture spread of the ill­ness through Africa, where health sys­tems are far less de­vel­oped.

“Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us,” Te­dros told re­porters from WHO head­quar­ters in Geneva. “Let’s pre­vent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many peo­ple still don’t un­der­stand.”

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 U.S. fund­ing for the agency, al­leg­ing that it botched the early re­sponse to the out­break.

Among other things, Trump in­sisted WHO had failed to ad­e­quately share “in a timely and trans­par­ent” way in­for­ma­tion about the out­break af­ter it erupted in China late last year.

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.

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