Panel: China, WHO should have acted quicker to stop pandemic
“What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” it said. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. The U.N. health agency bowed to the international pressure at the annual assembly of its member states last spring by creating the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
Women's issues at UN: Still 'too low down on the agenda'
Some leaders took time to recall the 1995 conference, detail domestic initiatives or lament that progress toward female equality is lagging or even retreating. The 1995 work of what was officially called the U.N.'s Fourth World Conference on Women is considered a signal moment in women's rights. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed to his country's 2017 law requiring some employers to provide 26 weeks of paid maternity leave. Still, many leaders, including some female ones, didn't devote much time or detail to women's issues in their speeches. In Norway, the prime minister, the parliament speaker and over 40% of parliamentarians and government ministers are women.
Asia Today: India adds another 83K, nears 2nd-most in world
The 83,341 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India's total past 3.9 million, according to the Health Ministry. Indias Health Ministry on Friday also reported 1,096 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 68,472. India added nearly 2 million coronavirus cases in August alone. New Zealand reported five new virus cases Friday, two among returning travelers already in quarantine and three connected to the Auckland outbreak. The number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea has stayed below 200 for the second consecutive day amid toughened social distancing rules.
Members named to panel probing WHO's pandemic response
The panel's co-chairs, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, announced the 11 other members during a media briefing. Clark said she and Johnson Sirleaf chose the panel members independently and that WHO did not attempt to influence their choices. We must honor the more than 25.6 million people known to have contracted the disease and the 850,000 and counting who have died from COVID-19, Johnson Sirleaf said. The panel scheduled its first meeting for Sept. 17 and plans to meet every six weeks between then and April. To uncover how the global response to COVID-19 was managed, we may ask decision-makers what kept them up at night," Clark said.