GoaChronicle.com Founder & Editor-in-Chief Savio Rodrigues at the World Health Organisation Global Media Briefing got an opportunity to ask one exclusive question to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at the World Health Organisation Global Media briefing. Here are excepts of that discussion:
GoaChronicle (GC) : My question is to Dr Tedros and it’s a very simple question. The question is, if he had an opportunity to rewind back the last couple of weeks when we’ve been going through the coronavirus pandemic and certain decisions that were taking by the World Health Organization would he have called the coronavirus a pandemic earlier? That is my question. If he had the opportunity to rewind and go back would WHO have called the pandemic earlier than it did, much later?
Dr Tedros: Yes, thank you. I would like to add to that. I think my colleagues have already said; based on the IHR 2005 what is expected from WHO is declaring the Public Health Emergency of International Concern as early as possible based on the factors and as Mike said, the highest emergency as far as International Health Regulations is concerned was declared on January 30th.
During that time, as Maria said, there were fewer than 100 cases and to be specific 82 confirmed cases on January 30th.
Outside China. Of course in China we had more cases but outside China we had only 82 cases and most of these cases were actually in the neighbourhood and most of them – since they’re in the neighbourhood – the rest of the world was still reporting no cases. We had few in Europe and I can read that for you, what was reported from Europe; we had five from France, one from Finland, four from Germany; that makes nine – ten actually, ten cases in Europe when we declared a Global Emergency.
In Africa we didn’t have any cases. From the Middle East the United Arab Emirates had four cases so you can see it for yourself. We triggered the highest level of emergency when the rest of the world had only 82 cases and no deaths.
Then to add to that, a Global Emergency is discussed among experts, it’s not just one Director-General who just comes out and declares. We have experts representing all over the whole world coming together as experts and discussing and they met on 23rd January. They couldn’t agree; they were divided.
Then of course they continued for a second day but still they couldn’t agree. Of course they agreed to meet in six, seven days and then met for a second time on January 30th, when, based on the criteria we have, they were convinced that the criteria were met to declare this a Global Emergency.
So I want to be clear again; the most important thing which is expected as a declaration from WHO is the Global Emergency declaration on January 30th and that was declared based on expert opinion that was drawn from all over the world, from experts who used the criteria to recommend to me that this was already a global emergency and that consensus led to a declaration of Global Emergency from WHO, which I announced myself.
So looking back I think we declared the Emergency at the right time and when the world had enough time to respond, when the rest of the world had enough time to respond. I repeat again, there were only 82 cases and no deaths. That was enough to cut it at the bud, enough. That was January 30th and this was more than two months and 21 days ago, close to three months now.