Saying contact tracing is difficult is a ‘lame excuse’, says WHO boss


Any country claiming that contact tracing is difficult during the coronavirus pandemic is using “a lame excuse”, according to the head of the World Health Organisation.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the health body, suggested governments saying contacts are too hard or too widespread to get hold of has been the biggest failing of some throughout the crisis.

He told an online press conference on Monday: “If there is a single failure for many of our countries to really not hunt down this virus (it) is our failure in contact tracing because we have lame excuses saying ‘it’s too many and it’s too difficult to trace because there are too many’.”

Referencing health workers who have previously contact traced during illness outbreaks in war-torn nations, Dr Tedros continued: “Trust me there is not too many, even in a war situation.

“If contact tracing helps you to win the fight you do it even risking your life.”

He added: “If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult it is a lame excuse.”

Dr Tedros also reflected on the fact that Tuesday marks six months since the WHO was first informed about the outbreak that would later come to be known as Covid-19.

If any country is saying contact tracing is difficult it is a lame excuse

He told the press conference: “Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world – and our lives – would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the best and worst of humanity.

“All over the world we have seen heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity and kindness.”

But he added: “We have also seen concerning signs of stigma, misinformation and the politicisation of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

His comments come one day after a scientist advising the Government said the test, trace and isolate system “is not yet fully functional”.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “It’s got to be fully functional by the beginning of September.”

He added: “It has to be there, that people trust it, that people are willing to use it and people are willing to respect the results that come from it.”

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