A petition on the change.org platform calling for the resignation of the head of the World Health Organization has so far garnered over 350,000 signatures worldwide.
The petition was started on Jan 31 by a man named Otsuka Yip, who is based in Canada. It calls on WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to resign because of his “improper” handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
The petitioner wrote: “On Jan 23, 2020. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declines to declare China virus outbreak as a global health emergency. As we all know, the coronavirus is not treatable at the moment. The number of infected and deaths has risen more than ten times (infected from 800 — close to 10,000) within only 5 days. Part of it is related to (the WHO chief) having underestimated the coronavirus. We strongly think (he) is not fit for his role as WHO Director-General. We call for the immediate resignation of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“A lot of us are really disappointed, we believe WHO is supposed to be politically neutral. Without any investigation, (the WHO chief) solely believes the death and infected numbers that the Chinese government has provided.
“On the other hand, Taiwan should not be excluded from WHO for any political reasons. Its technologies are far more advanced than some of the countries on the ‘Selected WHO List’.
“Please help the world to gain faith in the UN and WHO again.”
The petition gained ground even as the WHO sent a team of international experts to Beijing on Sunday (Feb 9) to investigate the virus outbreak.
Earlier today, the WHO chief issued a warning via Twitter that what the world had seen so far may only be “the tip of the iceberg”.
There’ve been some concerning instances of onward #2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to 🇨🇳. The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 9, 2020
Mr Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian national, warned that the spread of the virus may yet accelerate, and asked countries to prepare for the virus while the spread outside of China was still relatively slow. “As I told media yesterday, #2019nCoV spread outside #China appears to be slow now, but could accelerate. Containment remains our objective, but all countries must use the window of opportunity created by the containment strategy to prepare for the virus’s possible arrival,” he tweeted.
The WHO chief also said that 400 of the world’s leading experts would be gathering this week at the WHO headquarters in Geneva “to prioritize work on all the tools we need, including rapid diagnostics, a vaccine & effective treatments”.
Referring to the convening of health experts this week, the petitioner, Mr Otsuka Yip, wrote: “This is something that should have been done more than a month ago. What did he do while he was in Beijing weeks ago?”
The virus, which originated in Wuhan city in central China, has infected more than 40,000 people around the world, with a death toll of over 900.
Singapore is one of the countries with the highest number of people infected with the virus. It now has 43 diagnosed cases of 2019-nCoV. The Ministry of Health reported in its latest update that six individuals had fully recovered from the virus. However, three new cases were confirmed on Sunday (Feb 9), all of whom had “no recent travel history to China”. /TISG