Corruption over PPE is ‘murder’ – WHO | Inquirer News

Corruption over PPE is ‘murder’ – WHO

/ 05:10 AM August 23, 2020

GENEVA — Corrupt practices around medical safety gear for COVID-19 health workers is tantamount to “murder,” World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday as he warned that it may take at least two years until the world sees the pandemic’s end.

“Any type of corruption is unacceptable,” Tedros said at an online news conference. “However, corruption related to PPE (personal protective equipment) … for me it’s actually murder. Because if health workers work without PPE, we’re risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve.”


He made the remark in reply to coronavirus-linked corruption scandals in South Africa where government officials were reported to be hoarding and selling food donations meant for families without income during lockdown.

“It’s criminal and it’s murder and it has to stop,” Tedros said as he estimated that it would take around two years before the world could rein in the coronavirus pandemic.



But Tedros sought to draw favorable comparisons with the notorious flu pandemic of 1918.

“We have a disadvantage of globalization, closeness, connectedness, but an advantage of better technology, so we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years,” he told reporters.

By “utilizing the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu,” Tedros said.

With no usable vaccine yet available, the most prominent tool governments have at their disposal is to confine their populations or enforce social distancing.

Lebanon is the latest country to reintroduce severe restrictions, beginning two weeks of measures on Friday, including nighttime curfews to tamp down a rise in infections, which comes as the country struggles with an economic crisis and the recent shock of an explosion in Beirut that killed dozens earlier this month.

The Americas have borne the brunt of the virus in health terms, accounting for more than half of the world’s fatalities.

The number of new daily cases have been dropping sharply in the United States for weeks but experts are unsure if Americans will have the discipline to bring the epidemic under control.


After exceeding 70,000 confirmed infections per day in July, the country recorded 43,000 cases on Thursday.

Wider costs

Further south, Latin American countries were counting the wider costs of the pandemic — the region not only suffering the most deaths, but also an expansion of criminal activity and rising poverty.

But the WHO said the coronavirus pandemic appeared to be stabilizing in Brazil — one of the world’s worst-hit countries — and any reversal of its rampant spread in the vast country would be “a success for the world.”

Economies around the globe have been ravaged by the pandemic, which has infected more than 22 million and killed nearly 800,000 since it emerged in China late last year.

New financial figures bared the huge cost of the pandemic in Britain, where government debt soared past £2 trillion ($2.6 trillion) for the first time after a massive state borrowing program.

Even Germany, famed for its financial prudence, was waking up to a new reality with Finance Minister Olaf Scholz conceding his country would need to continue borrowing at a high level next year to deal with the virus fallout.

Western European politicians are also beginning to ramp up restrictions to tackle infections that are rising to levels not seen for months.

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