24 February 2020

Opening remarks to the media during a press encounter at the World Health Organization

António Guterres

 I want first of all to express my enormous gratitude and admiration for the staff of the World Health Organization (WHO).
When I visited Beni a few months ago, I could see the courage, the resilience of WHO staff fighting Ebola in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), living in extremely harsh conditions, risking their lives in a very insecure area and doing everything to serve the Congolese people and to avoid the dramatic impact of that disease, both in the DRC and the risk of propagation.
Now here it's a different case. But the same resilience, the same commitment, the same hard work with teams that 24 hours, after 24 hours are following everything that is happening in the world and are giving support to governments - the Government of China, governments all over the world - in order to make sure that this terrible disease is contained.
I think it's important to say that all countries - and this is now a problem that is affecting many countries in the world - all countries must do everything to be prepared.
And all countries must do everything, respecting naturally the principle of non-discrimination, without stigmatisation, respecting human rights - but doing everything that they can to contain the disease.
The disease, it's still possible to be contained, but if some fail, if some do not do everything that is needed, this can still become out of control with dramatic consequences in global health and the global economy.
So my strong appeal to all countries (is) to assume their responsibilities and knowing that they can fully count on the WHO to support them in that effort.