The World Health Organization says it “didn’t waste time” responding to the coronavirus after facing criticism for its handling of the outbreak.
Its head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO’s declaration of the virus as a world health emergency on 30 January gave “enough time for the remainder of the planet to respond”.
At the time there have been only 82 cases outside China and no deaths.
Today there are quite 3.2m cases and 234,000 deaths recorded worldwide.
US President Donald Trump has said the WHO “really blew” its response and accused it of bias towards China.
The US is that the global health body’s largest single funder and President Trump says he will halt funding.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday Dr Tedros offered an active defence of how the organisation responded.
He insisted the WHO used the time before the declaration wisely, including visiting China to find out more about the virus at its origin.
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Dr Tedros confirmed that the pandemic remained a “public health emergency of international concern”, three months after it had been declared one.
Such a declaration is formed under an “extraordinary” event and requires a worldwide response.
Dr Tedros described “grave” worries over the potential impact of the virus because it accelerates in countries with weaker health systems.
Officials said that they had seen worrying increases during a number of those nations – including Haiti, Somalia, and Sudan.
The WHO also urged caution among nations relaxing their social distancing measures, stressing the importance of monitoring for brand spanking new jumps in infections as lockdowns are eased.