LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says the agency declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a global emergency “early enough” and that the pronouncement was made when there were fewer than 100 cases outside China, where the new coronavirus was first detected.
In recent weeks, WHO has been criticized for moving too slowly to warn the rest of the world about the threat posed by COVID-19. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suspended funding to WHO, accusing it of mismanaging the response to the coronavirus epidemic. Despite declaring the outbreak a global emergency on Jan. 30, WHO declined to describe it as a pandemic until March 11.
“Looking back, I think we declared (an) emergency at the right time,” WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, dismissing criticism that the U.N. agency acted too slowly. “The rest of the world had enough time to respond,” he said at a press briefing.