By Harrison Arubu
United Nations, March 3, 2020
President of the UN General Assembly, Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, has advised against politicisation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.
Muhammad-Bande gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York on Monday evening.
He was speaking against the backdrop of the rapid spread of the virus around the world, a situation some blame on government failure in affected countries.
“This is not an issue of politics, but a technical issue concerning health matters, and let those who are trained on public health guide us about it.
“The spread is a serious global challenge and every country is doing its very best because no country jokes about public health of this magnitude.
“The most affected country is China, and the Chinese effort is commendable. Everybody has seen what measure they have undertaken.
“Nobody should make a pronouncement about what is unfolding other than to say we should listen to the advice of the WHO (World Health Organisation).
“There is great coordination between the WHO as a body and national governments or health institutions in tackling the challenge.’’
NAN reports that the COVID-19 threat has become a subject of political blame game in some of the 60 countries that the WHO says have been affected by the virus so far.
For instance, in the United States and Nigeria, which announced its first case on Thursday, governments have come under criticism mainly from political figures over alleged failure to keep the virus at bay.
The global death toll of the disease has exceeded 3,000, most of them in China, where the virus broke out in December.
On Monday, the Director-General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said the coronavirus appeared to now be spreading much faster outside China than within.
Ghebreyesus stated that nine times as many cases had been reported outside China within the previous 24 hours, adding that the risk of coronavirus spreading was now very high at a global level.
Italy is said to be one of the countries worst affected, reporting a jump in its death toll from 34 to 52 on Monday.
Five African countries namely Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia have confirmed cases of the disease.
The President of the General Assembly, PGA, who doubles as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, stressed the need for global collaboration and cooperation to contain the virus.
“Let us be reminded that this is a global challenge that requires support, solidarity and cooperation among nations,’’ he stressed.