WHO’s twitter

EDITORIAL: It’s time for facts and facts only, in time of Coronavirus crisis

Transparency and well-informed facts are critically needed no less than prevention and protection measures against Coronavirus

This is the time for facts, not fear.

This is the time for science, not rumours.

This is the time for solidarity, not stigma.

WHO Director-General Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ended his declaration on the global public health emergency against the novel Coronavirus on late Thursday night (Geneva time) impressively, and if there was anything critical in words made by the global health agency’s chief, apart from a call for solidarity and coooperation for effective prevention and protection against the virus, it would be transparent and well informed data and information that helps establish facts to lead to just decisions.

Having fought against newly emerging diseases, the world has experienced much suffering from these diseases as much as cover-ups and misinformation about them.

Back then to the early 2000s when the world encountered with SARs (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), it was almost three or four months late that WHO and the world community learned about this new virus from China, who was accused of concealing the scale of the outbreak for fears of the economic impcts. 

The virus eventually spread to 26 countries, infecting more than 8,000, and claiming lives of around 800.

Dr. Tedros seems to acknowledge how critical role transparent and well-informed facts can play, so he has kept encouraging countries to share data and information with WHO.

China, in particular, has been repeatedly praised and appreciated by WHO as this time it has demonstrated its commitment and seriousness to tackle this new Coronavirus.

“As you know, I was in China just a few days ago, where I met with President Xi Jinping. I left in absolutely no doubt about China’s commitment to transparency, and to protecting the world’s people,” Dr Tedros said during the press conference.

“The speed with which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome and shared it with WHO and the world are very impressive, and beyond words. So is China’s commitment to transparency and to supporting other countries.”

Besides the issue of cover-ups of the situation that will undemine overall efforts, misinformation is also another challenge in time of such the crisis, and in time when it can be shared at a speed of one click.

Realising how critical it is, Dr. Tedros later revealed that WHO has asked all digital companies to step up and help the world beat this outbreak.

“We appreciate @Google, @Facebook, @TencentGlobal, @Tiktok and @Twitter’s efforts to combat misinformation and rumors on #2019nCoV & direct users to reliable sources,” Dr. Tedros has tweeted.

Measures against these two issues have also been addressed among recommendations by the organisation for the global community and countries to follow, reflecting how no less critical and serious they are than the others.

As the top public health agency has recognised the issues and addressed them along with other challenges at the policy-level against the virus, the ball is now returned to the global community and countries, which should adhere to the recommendations, and not succumb to economic effects to the point that they put people’s lives at risk of this disease, which has so far has no yet known scope and scale of impacts it can cause.

Only that, the time will be truly the time for facts, not fear; for science, not rumours; and for solidarity, not stigma.