WHO head warns worst of virus is still ahead

The head of the World Health Organization has warned that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, raising new alarm bells about the pandemic just as many countries are beginning to ease restrictive measures

“Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us,” Tedros told reporters from WHO headquarters in Geneva. “Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand.”

Some Asian and European governments have gradually eased or started relaxing “lockdown” measures like quarantines, school and business closures and restrictions on public gatherings, citing a decline in the growth of COVID-19 case counts and deaths.

Among other things, Trump insisted WHO had failed to adequately share “in a timely and transparent” way information about the outbreak after it erupted in China late last year.

“This virus is dangerous. It exploits cracks between us when we have differences,” he said.

Tedros said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staffers have been seconded to work with his agency, suggesting that was a sign of WHO’s transparency.

“Having CDC staff (at WHO) means there is nothing hidden from the U.S. from Day One” Tedros said. “Our CDC colleagues also know that we give information immediately to anyone.”

In one of his starkest comparisons yet, the U.N. health agency chief also alluded to the so-called Spanish flu more than a century ago, saying the coronavirus has a “very dangerous combination ... like the 1918 flu that killed up to 100 million people.”

Tedros called the illness “Public Enemy No. 1,” and said: “We have been warning from Day One: This is a devil that everybody should fight.”