Guterres criticizes countries for neglecting WHO guidance on pandemic

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday criticized countries that rejected facts and ignored World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on the coronavirus pandemic, news wires reported. In a speech to kick off a UN General Assembly meeting of world leaders on Covid-19, Guterres said the UN health agency provided scientific guidance that should have been the basis for a coordinated global response.

"Unfortunately, many of these recommendations were not followed. And in some situations, there was a rejection of facts and an ignoring of the guidance," he said, without naming specific nations. "And when countries go in their own direction, the virus goes in every direction."

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among nearly 100 world leaders slated to deliver pre-recorded video statements at the 193-member UN General Assembly's two-day meeting.

The UN special session is not expected to culminate in concrete political action or a declaration, but a summary document from General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir. The point of the meeting was for nations, the scientific community and civil society "to hear from each other, engage in dialogue on the multifaceted consequences of the pandemic as well as on the ways to recover better and stronger," Bozkir said in his opening remarks. He began the event by asking participants to observe a minute of silence for the 1.5 million people who have died as a result of Covid-19.

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