In an unforeseen case of physician heal thyself, 65 World Health Organization (W.H.O.) headquarters staff in the Swiss lakeside city of Geneva have reportedly been laid low by an outbreak of the coronavirus.
The cases of the virus have been found amongst among staff, including five people who worked on the premises and were in contact with one another, an internal email obtained by The Associated Press shows.
AP reports the U.N. health agency is investigating how and where the five people became infected — and that it has not determined whether transmission happened at its offices.
W.H.O.’s confirmation Monday of the figures in the email was the first time it has publicly acknowledged the outbreak.
“To my knowledge, the cluster being investigated is the first evidence of potential transmission on the site of WHO,” Dr. Michael Ryan, the agency’s chief of emergencies, told reporters Monday after the AP reported on the internal email.
In normal times, an estimated 2,400 people regularly work at W.H.O.’s plush seven-story headquarters overlooking Geneva.
The outbreak comes as the organization continues to issue daily orders for the rest of the world to follow to keep the virus from spreading and follows a year of repeated criticism of its handling of the pandemic.
Embattled W.H.O. chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was warmly applauded Sunday by China’s Communist regime. https://t.co/Gu6drtfcFl
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 24, 2020
So fierce have been the attacks on the W.H.O. in general and its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in particular that as far back as April an online petition demanding Tedros resign passed one million signatures, as Breitbart News reported.
An anonymous Taiwan activist using the ID “Osuka Yip” launched the call, reflecting global concerns Tedros has been economical with the truth since the deadly virus it was first isolated in the southern Chinese city of Wuhan last November.
This is not the first time Tedros has drawn public criticism in his role.
In October 2017, he named former Zimbabwe tyrant Robert Mugabe a “goodwill ambassador” for W.H.O. to help combat non-communicable diseases in Africa, provoking outrage from medical professionals and human rights groups. As the New York Times noted:
The role of good-will ambassador is largely symbolic, but rights groups were scathing in their reaction to the symbolism of giving it to a man whose leadership, they say, has led to the collapse of its health service and major rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Ultimately, Tedros rescinded his decision to name Mugabe “goodwill ambassador” in the wake of criticism.
AP contributed to this story