Almost a year since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global “pandemic”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now clarified that it did use the “highest level of alarm” to urge actions from all countries in January 2020.
When asked at a press conference on Monday on whether the Organization should have used the word “pandemic” sooner, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said that it announced a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, reports Xinhua news agency.
She said that the announcement was indeed the highest level of alarm, or “the highest level that we can under international law”.
On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, following a two-day discussion by a team of international experts.
Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said at Monday’s press conference that this level of action was the “highest possible” under common agreement between member states.
He added that there is a solemn legal agreement between 194 WHO members, agreed in 2005, where they came together and agreed with each other what would represent the highest level of alert for global public health emergencies.
“That is an agreement between all member states on this planet, who agreed in law, that this would represent the trigger to collective action in response for containment,” he said.
“Maybe we need to shout louder,” said Ryan,
“But maybe some people need hearing aids.”
The total number of global Covid-19 cases has topped 117 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 2.59 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Tuesday morning, the University revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 117,130,044 and 2,599,596, respectively.