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Odishatv Bureau

Geneva:  The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has defended its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ghebreyesus said countries should have listened to the agency after it declared a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern" on 30 January, when there were 82 cases outside China and no deaths, the BBC reported on Monday.

"The world should have listened to WHO then, carefully," he told reporters.

"We advised the whole world to implement a comprehensive public health approach, and we said: 'Find, test, isolate, and do contact tracing'. You can check for yourselves: countries who followed that are in a better position than others."

“WHO has no power or force to reinforce its advice, except the willingness of the countries to accept or reject," said Ghebreyesus

However, WHO will continue to give advice based on science & evidence & then it will be up to countries whether to take it or not, said WHO Chief.

Ghebreyesus has further warned that COVID-19 is still "extremely dangerous", though countries were seeking to return to normal as social isolation measures have helped slow the spread of the deadly disease.

"The pandemic is far from over," Xinhua new agency quoted Tedros as saying at a virtual press conference on Monday.

"The WHO continues to be concerned about the increasing trends in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and some Asian countries."

He called on countries to continue aggressive tactics against the pandemic, saying "as lockdowns in Europe ease with declining numbers of new cases, we continue to urge countries to find, isolate, test and treat all cases of COVID-19 and trace every contact, to ensure these declining trends continue".

The virus remains "extremely dangerous", Tedros reiterated, adding that early evidence suggests that most of the world's population was still susceptible, which means epidemics can easily re-ignite.

The WHO chief's comments come as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the world has topped 3 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 3,041,517, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the university revealed in its latest update.

The global death toll has increased to 211,159. The US, which remains the hardest-hit country, reported 988,451 cases and 56,245 deaths, both tallies are the highest in the world currently.

(IANS)

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