- Guterres avoided mentioning directly the leaders who did little to stop the spread of the disease in their countries.
- The United States has the most cases and deaths in the world, while Brazil is third in cases and second in deaths.
- Around 100 international leaders sent video statements to the UN special session, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
In a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss global actions against COVID-19, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the role of the World Health Organization (WHO), and said that science should be the basis of the global reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.
The UN Secretary-General voiced strong criticism of countries that insist on rejecting the facts concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and choose to ignore the warnings of the WHO.
Guterres’ statement on Thursday started the extraordinary meeting of the UN General Assembly, where representatives from most of the 193 member countries discuss global actions against the coronavirus. The pandemic has already killed more than 1.5 million people around the world.
“From the start, the World Health Organization provided factual information and scientific guidance that should have been the basis for a coordinated global response,” Guterres said.
“Unfortunately, many of these recommendations were not followed. And in some situations, there was a rejection of facts and an ignoring of the guidance. And when countries go in their own direction, the virus goes in every direction,” he added.
Guterres avoided mentioning directly the leaders who did little to stop the spread of the disease in their countries, but gave a clear message to nations that, notoriously, decided to ignore the WHO warnings, such as the United States and Brazil.
US President Donald Trump has on many occasions accused the WHO of being a “puppet” of China’s interests. He even suspended American financial contributions and announced plans to withdraw his country from the entity by July 2021. Meanwhile, Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in the presidential election and denied the Republican a second term, has already said he will cancel the measure.
President Trump and Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, have chosen to ignore WHO health alerts. In Brazil, President Bolsonaro adopted a position similar to that of his American counterpart, and not give the disease the seriousness it deserved.
He even referred to COVID-19 as a “cold sore,” and ignored the health authorities’ warnings by not wearing a protective mask at public events and promoting agglomerations.
USA and Brazil Top the List of Hardest Hit
Even after both were infected with the coronavirus and went through periods of isolation and treatment, Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro still insist on ignoring the WHO alerts, while the disease continues to advance in their countries.
As of Friday morning, the United States had accumulated more than 14 million cases and over 276,000 deaths associated with COVID-19. Brazil surpassed 175,000 deaths– behind only the USA in the global count– and already has 6.4 million infections.
Around 100 international leaders sent video statements to the UN special session, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Chancellor Merkel defended the strengthening of the WHO, which, she said, “should be placed in an even better position to react to threats to international health.”
She noted that the pandemic is “an extraordinary test for humanity,” but said that the global platform for the distribution of vaccines – supported by WHO – is a “light at the end of the tunnel.”