The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic this week as many
countries expanded travel restrictions, shut down schools and universities and clamped down on large public gatherings in a bid to contain the virus.
Speaking on Wednesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in the past two weeks the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold, and expressed deep concern about the spread of the virus. He also raised concerns about “alarming levels of inaction”.
Eric Feigl-Ding, an Epidemiologist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health told UpFront that he ranks the global collective effort to contain coronavirus at B minus, C plus.
“I think testing in Korea is absolutely gold standard. But testing in the United States is absolutely abysmal,” Feigl-Ding said.
When asked whether some world leaders potentially have blood on their hands for failing to take action to contain the virus Feigl-Ding said “I think so”.
As of March 8, South Korea had 3,500 tests per million people, the UK had 350 tests per million. In the U.S, according to figures from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there had been just 5 tests per million. Feigl-Ding said the lack of testing in the U.S. in particular was a serious problem.
“You need the testing to do contact tracing, who were they in contact to, locking down, isolation, and that’s why without that testing and the investigative team footwork, you cannot contain this epidemic,” Feigl-Ding said.
Feigl-Ding believes containment is key, and that people should keep to any quarantines that have been imposed, avoid public spaces and practice social distancing.
“Unfortunately, I think in certain ways, you have to do extreme social distancing…like all the sports games, public venues. But the draconianness [sic] of China, I don’t know, because they have the Wuhan lockdown, but they also have residential lockdown for 750 million,” Feigl-Ding said.
In this week’s Special Interview, Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding lays out what measure he thinks need to be put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
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The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency’s governing structure and principles, states its main objective as “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”