WHO says some nations aren’t running enough coronavirus tests: ‘Test every suspected case’

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World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19 virus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 11, 2020.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

The World Health Organization’s top official criticized some nations for not doing enough to detect and contain the deadly coronavirus that’s infected more than 174,000 people across the world. 

There’s been a rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases over the past week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference Monday. “But we have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the response,” he said.

“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case, if they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in contact with two days before they developed symptoms and test those people, too”, Tedros said.

Tedros didn’t single out any one country, but state and local leaders in the U.S. have heavily criticized the Trump administration and  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for delaying and limiting who could get tested in the U.S.

At the beginning of the outbreak, the CDC limited testing to people who had recently traveled to China and showed symptoms, or people who were symptomatic and exposed to someone with a confirmed case.  The agency has since expanded its guidelines to include people showing symptoms who are already in the hospital or with underlying health conditions.

“For any country, one of the most important things is the political commitment at the highest level,” Tedros said.

On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state was ramping up its testing, having just received federal approval to allow 28 labs across the state that can process complex tests to begin running coronavirus tests. He said the state should be able to process 6,000 tests a day starting next week. So far, the state has been able to run a total of just 3,000 tests so far, he said. 

This is breaking news. Check back here for updates.

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