Countries finding contact tracing difficult making a “lame excuse”: WHO chief

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on June 30, 2020

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus dismissed complaints from countries that believe that the contact tracing is too difficult to follow as a strategy to contain the virus, calling it “lame,” as per media reports.

The UN health agency has reiterated many a time that countries that shutting down their COVID-19 outbreaks requires having a robust contact-tracing program in place, a labour-intensive process of tracking down contacts of people with coronavirus to ensure those at risk isolate themselves.

Initially, countries that have witnessed an exponential surge in the number of cases, including Britain and the US, have complained that there are too many contacts to be traced.

Earlier this month, Britain had promised to implement a "world-class" contact tracing system. But, the UK had to pull itself back from the promise as the digital app developed to implement the measure has not yet run at full strength despite recruiting thousands of workers.

In recent weeks, British health officials have said their contact tracers are failing to reach about one-quarter of people with the virus -- leaving thousands of people free to pass on Covid-19, News18 reported.

Tedros added that it wasn't acceptable that some countries claimed there were too many contacts to trace and that the process itself was too complicated.

Earlier, he had commended South Asian countries for their efforts in tracking down people who may have been exposed to coronavirus infected patients.

Tedros said that well-resourced countries that aren't fighting wars have little excuse for not carrying out good contact tracing.

"If contact tracing helps you to win the fight, you do it, even (when) risking your life," he said. "If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult, it is a lame excuse."

WHO said the pandemic was "accelerating", particularly in the Americas. "The hard reality is that this is not even close to being over," Tedros said.

"The worst is yet to come,” he warned.

Published on June 30, 2020

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