China could have imposed more effective measures in a bid to curb the further spread of the coronavirus, an independent review panel said in a report on Monday. It further criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency before January 30 last year.
The international experts reviewing the global handling of the fatal virus, led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, called for key reforms in the global health agency. The team published its interim report hours after Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top health expert, stated that the global deaths from the respiratory disease were predicted to reach more than 100,000 per week.
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The independent experts maintained that the local health officials could have applied the social distancing and other measures strictly to curb the spread of the virus as the virus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Besides, it also questioned the emergency session of the World Health Organization held in the third week of January and did not declare an international health emergency until a week later, on January 31. The interim report added that even though the term pandemic is neither defined nor used in the 2005 International Health Regulations, its use serves the purpose to focus all the attention on the “gravity of the situation.”
The experts maintained that it was not until March when the WHO used the term. Besides, the report claimed that the World Health Organization has been underpowered to do its job. Since the pandemic first broke out, US President Trump has accused the global health agency of being Beijing-centric, which the WHO categorically denies. On the other hand, European nations, including Germany and France, have pushed for addressing the shortcomings of the organization like legal powers and funding.
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