The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has appealed for $675 million in special, one-off funding to deliver two months worth of direct aid to China and international agencies working to counter the coronavirus epidemic, as deaths from the outbreak neared 640 people.
Speaking in Geneva on Wednesday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said latest data indicated 24,363 confirmed infections in China and he called on the world to send funds without delay to help bureaucrats develop their plans to stop the viral outbreak in its tracks.
“In the last 24 hours, we had the most cases in a single day since the outbreak started (3925 new cases globally),” he said.
Noting the concern generated by the SARS-like virus, Tedros added his sympathy for the people of China, “we must not forget how difficult it is for the people of Wuhan”, in reference to the city at the epicentre of the outbreak.
The U.N. health agency’s major concern is the virus could reach countries without the capacity to detect infections, as Tedros urged the international community to show solidarity – political, technical and financial – with China to ensure that it does not spread further.
“My biggest worry is that there are countries today who do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted the virus, even if it were to emerge”, he said. “Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers.”
Other U.N. agencies have also appealed to the world for help.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) wrote to the Chinese premier Xi Jinping, jointly expressed solidarity and offering support as the country battles the outbreak.
To fight further spread of the #2019nCoV outbreak in #China & globally & protect vulnerable states with weak health systems, the intl community has launched a US$675 million preparedness & response plan covering the months of February through April 2020 https://t.co/OR6d4nVfBP pic.twitter.com/JMeqvfRyTz
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 5, 2020
The heads of the three agencies – FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, President of IFAD Gilbert Houngbo, and WFP Executive Director David Beasley – joined as one to praise the Chinese people and “the efforts made by the country dealing with the emergency.”
Describing the outbreak as a “health challenge for China and the rest of the world,” the three Rome-based agencies pledged readiness to provide support, based on their respective areas of expertise, to China’s efforts to alleviate the impact of the virus on the population, particularly in rural areas.
The appeal for funds to be sent to the U.N. and China was followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping calling U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday to say China was “fully confident and capable” of defeating the deadly outbreak while cautioning Washington to respond “reasonably” to the epidemic, as Breitbart News reported.