The United States and Italy are examples of what a delay in tackling the coronavirus crisis can do, the special COVID-19 envoy to the World Health Organisation told NDTV on Thursday, generously praising India’s move to quickly implement a nationwide lockdown.
“This is a disease in which the sooner we respond, the more we will be able to contain the spread,” said Dr David Nabarro in an exclusive interview to NDTV.
“India has led by example on many occasions in the past. The information network to get the message across to various communities, right down to the panchayat level is also very effective. I have seen ads too by Amitabh Bachchan on what needs to be done. India has moved fast,” said Dr Nabarro.
To a question on whether the 21-day lockdown was enough and should it be extended, Dr Nabarro said: “The government can assess on the basis of data where the hotspots are. Then it can take a decision on releasing the lockdown in other areas and continue with it in the hotspots. There is pain associated with a lockdown implemented again but the government must do whatever is good to contain the virus. Speed is very important.”
China has come under a lot of criticism for reportedly concealing the extent of the virus. There are also allegations against the WHO of supporting China and not questioning them on the glaring loopholes in the information regarding the origins of the virus. To this, Dr Nabarro said: “Now is not the time.”
“When history will be written, we will be judged on the basis of how fast we reacted to contain this pandemic. There will come a time where we will assess in great detail how did it all start and fix accountability. Now is not the time. I would also like to tell all the world leaders the same thing. This is a time where all of us should rise above blame and help fight this invisible enemy,” he said.
India has registered nearly 2,000 cases of COVID-19 across the country and at least 50 deaths – far lower than the US and Italy which take the top two spots globally with over 2 lakh and 1 lakh cases respectively.
The novel coronavirus, which emerged in China’s Wuhan last year, has killed 13,000 people in Italy, 10,000 in Spain and 5,000 in the US.