UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized countries that “ignored the recommendations” of the World Health Organization (WHO) to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and estimated that the world pays for ” high price “for these divergent strategies.
“We saw expressions of solidarity, but very little unity in our response to COVID-19. Countries followed divergent strategies and we all paid a high price for that,” said Guterres.
“Many countries have ignored the recommendations of the World Health Organization,” he added by videoconference at the opening of the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the 194 members of WHO that is being held for the first time in a virtual way.
“As a result, the virus has spread across the world and is now targeting countries in the South, where it can have even more devastating effects; and we are at risk of new spikes and new waves,” he added, without mentioning the countries in question.
The Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus pandemic has killed at least 313,000 people worldwide since the first cases reported in December in China, according to a balance sheet established on Sunday by AFP.
The United States is the country most affected in terms of number of deaths and cases, with almost 90,000 fatalities and 1.5 million cases.
It is followed by the United Kingdom (34,636 dead), Italy (31,908), France (28,108) and Spain (27,650). WHO has not commented on whether to confine or not, but recommended testing, isolation and systematic treatment of all suspected cases.
In the United States, President Donald Trump accused China of having concealed the outbreak of the epidemic and of deliberately underestimating its seriousness. Suspecting that WHO and its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, blindly endorsed Beijing’s defense, suspended US credits to the UN agency.
Guterres implicitly condemned this decision.
“WHO is irreplaceable. It needs more resources, in particular to provide support to developing countries, which should be our biggest concern,” he said, as the pandemic was progressing rapidly in the southern hemisphere, and especially in Africa.
“Protecting developing countries is not a matter of charity or generosity, but an issue of enlightened common interest. Northern countries can only overcome COVID-19 if southern countries neutralize it at the same time,” insisted Guterres.