The world is ‘simply not ready’ for coronavirus, WHO expert reveals

Governments are ‘simply not ready’ to tackle their own coronavirus onslaughts, the World Health Organisation’s China chief has claimed.

Bruce Aylward, who leads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, said Beijing’s success in firefighting the infection has lulled other nations into a false sense of security.

He said: ‘You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale… and it has to be done fast,’ insisting countries have to ‘be ready as if this hits us tomorrow’.

Dozens of countries are now battling outbreaks, with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran among the worst-affected.

Bruce Aylward, who leads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, said Beijing's success in firefighting the infection has lulled other nations into a false sense of security

Bruce Aylward, who leads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, said Beijing's success in firefighting the infection has lulled other nations into a false sense of security

Bruce Aylward, who leads the joint WHO-China mission of experts, said Beijing’s success in firefighting the infection has lulled other nations into a false sense of security

Since the deadly bug spawned in Wuhan late last year, it has spread to kill more than 2,700 and infect 80,000, with mainland China suffering the brunt of cases

Since the deadly bug spawned in Wuhan late last year, it has spread to kill more than 2,700 and infect 80,000, with mainland China suffering the brunt of cases

Since the deadly bug spawned in Wuhan late last year, it has spread to kill more than 2,700 and infect 80,000, with mainland China suffering the brunt of cases

Since the deadly bug spawned in Wuhan late last year, it has spread to kill more than 2,700 and infect 80,000, with mainland China suffering the brunt of cases. 

But the WHO has confirmed the epidemic has now ‘peaked’ in China and, although the number of cases continues to rise, it is spiralling at a slower rate.

Mr Aylward hailed the robust measures taken by Beijing, which has quarantined entire cities, frozen travel and erected new hospitals at lightning speed.

Yet it has also been accused of scrubbing the internet of stories which purportedly lay bare the true scale of the crisis. 

And despite the outbreak spilling out across the mainland and into the wider world, Mr Aylward heaped praise on the Chinese government.

He said: ‘China knows how to keep people alive from COVID… That is not going to be the case everywhere in the world… It is a serious disease.’  

Mr Aylward hailed the robust measures taken by Beijing, which has quarantined entire cities, frozen travel and erected new hospitals at lightning speed

Mr Aylward hailed the robust measures taken by Beijing, which has quarantined entire cities, frozen travel and erected new hospitals at lightning speed

Mr Aylward hailed the robust measures taken by Beijing, which has quarantined entire cities, frozen travel and erected new hospitals at lightning speed

Warning Beijings efforts had given others a ‘false sense of security’, he added: ‘How many countries are planning hospital bed, planning ventilators… and the lab capacity to be able to manage this?’ he asked

‘There has to be a shift in mindset,’ he insisted. ‘You have to plan.’

But so far, he warned, countries ‘are simply not ready’. He voiced particular concern that poorer countries with weak health care systems were the most at risk.

Aylward also said his team’s findings in China appeared to belie theories circulating that the number of cases being detected is only the tip of the iceberg and that a lot of undetected transmission is going on.

‘There is not a lot of evidence of that,’ he said.

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