President Trump’s leadership in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak was praised the head of the World Health Organization.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus applauded the president’s “political commitment” during a press briefing in Geneva on Wednesday and said Trump is “doing all he can” in response to the global pandemic.
WATCH: The World Health Organization’s top official says President Trump is doing a “great job” combating the #coronavirus.
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“Fighting this pandemic needs political commitment and commitment at the highest level possible — and the President’s commitment, you have already seen it,” the director-general said.
“As you know, one of the recommendations from WHO is the whole of government approach involving all sectors. And the principal, the head of state, taking responsibility and leading the whole response and that’s exactly what he is doing,” Tedros added, noting that he had spoken to the president.
“I believe that kind of political commitment and political leadership can bring change or can stop this pandemic,” he said, adding, “I know he’s doing all he can.”
“It’s a dangerous virus,” Tedros said in the online press conference in which called COVID-19 “Public Enemy No. 1.”
“We had been saying to the world the window of opportunity is narrowing and the time to act was actually more than a month ago, two months ago,” he said.
The former health minister for Ethiopia has come under fire for his criticism of the world’s “slow” reaction to the coronavirus outbreak as his own organization downplayed the seriousness of the now-global pandemic months ago.
WHO director says world ‘slow to react’ to COVID-19, after claiming no human-to-human transmission months prior https://t.co/vnGgqYDghB
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“I think we squandered the first window of opportunity but we are saying today,” Tedros said Wednesday. “This is a second opportunity that we should not squander.”
But the WHO waited for weeks after the outbreak originated in China to declare a global pandemic which now has more than half a million confirmed cases worldwide and about 23,000 deaths. Back in January, WHO claimed there was no evidence that the coronavirus could be spread from person to person, a claim refuted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which reported that the virus does indeed spread through human contact.
Meanwhile, the United Nations agency responsible for international public health also prompted backlash when it praised China for its handling of the outbreak.
WHO thanks the Chinese authorities for their commitment to sharing information on the novel #coronavirus (2019-nC0V) as they continue intensive surveillance and follow-up measures, including environmental investigations in #China🇨🇳 pic.twitter.com/ZOTCqsGTCr
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 11, 2020
China has denied accusations that it downplayed the outbreak and even buried critical information, instead blaming the U.S. for starting and then spreading the virus.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, Tedros urged other nations to “find and attack the virus.”
“Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time, and reducing pressure on health systems. On their own, these measures won’t extinguish epidemics,” he said.
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While he believes the death toll will likely continue to climb, Tedros noted:”The question is how large a price we will pay.”