According to an independent panel, both China and WHO acted too slowly to contain the first outbreak of Covid-19.
The Switzerland-based Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response have carried out a second report on the outbreak of Covid-19 and have determined that the Chinese Government could have implemented more vigorous and quicker public health measures in Wuhan.
“What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January (2020).”
According to Wuhan authorities, the first cases of Covid-19 occurred between December 12 and December 29. By January 23, when Wuhan was in lockdown, the virus had already spread to South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the United States.
Many countries including America and Australia have been vocal in their criticism of China’s initial response to the virus, insisting they acted too late.
The independent panel, co-chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf also criticised WHO for their delay in reporting on the virus and have called for reforms to the agency.
The report said “It is not clear why the committee did not meet until the third week of January, nor is it clear why it was unable to agree on the declaration of a public health emergency of international concern when it was first convened.”
WHO did not declare the outbreak a pandemic until March 11. This has been met with some criticism. By the time of the declaration, 118,000 cases and 4,000 deaths had been confirmed.
Ireland had already confirmed over 40 cases and at least 1 death by March 11. The next day, the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the closure of all schools, colleges and childcare facilities until March 29.
“Although the term pandemic is neither used nor defined in the International Health Regulations (2005), its use does serve to focus attention on the gravity of a health event” the report said.
It was also determined that WHO has been “underpowered” to do its job and that the international community needs a global reset in how it handles pandemics and health crises.
This pandemic has been a warning to the world. It’s important that the world uses what we know now in the future to help prevent or minimise the damage from future pandemics because according to WHO, the Covid-19 pandemic is not the big one. You can check out Radio Nova’s report on it here.