Coronavirus: UN chief Antonio Guterres slams countries for ignoring WHO advice

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By Luke Hurst  with AFP
Coronavirus: UN chief Antonio Guterres slams countries for ignoring WHO advice
Copyright  AP

The head of the United Nations has slammed some countries for ignoring the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) during the coronavirus pandemic.

Calling for an “end to the hubris”, Antonio Guterres said the pandemic should serve as a “wake-up call” to a world which needs to be more united in its response to crises.

By ignoring the WHO’s advice, the UN Secretary-General said the virus has spread to poorer countries where it “could have even more devastating effects”.

At a virtual meeting of the WHO’s World Health Assembly, Guterres said: "We have seen talk of solidarity but very little unity in our response to COVID-19, countries have followed different, sometimes contradictory strategies and we are all paying a high price for this. Many countries have ignored the recommendations of the World Health Organization, as a result, the virus has spread throughout the world and is now heading towards southern countries where it could have even more devastating effects and we risk new peaks and waves."

Calling the WHO “irreplaceable”, he insisted it needed more resources to support developing countries.

“We are as strong as the weakest health systems. Protecting the developing world is not a matter of charity or generosity but a question of enlightened self-interest,” he said.

There have been more than 316,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 worldwide so far, and an increasing number of infections in developing countries.

And he reiterated his call for G20 countries to consider a large-scale stimulus package that would amount to a “double-digit percentage of global GDP”.