The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said a new system was needed for fighting outbreaks, as he stressed that the world was “dangerously unprepared for a global pandemic.”
The warning from Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus comes as the death toll from a viral outbreak that began in the the Chinese city of Wuhan on Monday reached 361.
The latest figures show 2,829 new cases confirmed over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in China to more than 17,000.
Ghebreyesus said last week’s WHO decision to declare a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) was prompted by signs of human-to-human transmission outside China and concern of what might happen if the virus were to spread in a country with a weaker health system.
He has repeatedly stressed that the declaration was not a criticism of China’s response to the outbreak.
He said the current system of declaring a public health emergency was “too blunt an instrument for dealing with complex emergencies” and the WHO was looking into introducing an immediate level alert.
“We have a green light, a red light, and nothing in between. It’s too restrictive, too simplistic, and not fit for purpose,” he said.
He added that the current model of dealing with global outbreak was “dangerously short-sighted, and frankly difficult to understand.”
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