World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Source: – On Thursday, WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a coronavirus briefing in Geneva, spoke at length about the importance of countries’ responses to the outbreak being led from the highest level of government.

Many countries – he did not name them – were leaving the response to health ministries, which he said was a mistake.

Instead, heads of government should be leading, from the top, all-of-government efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, Tedros said.

“If the highest level of the government, the head of state or head of government, starts to lead and coordinates all sectors, that brings qualitative change in the way we respond to the epidemic,” he said.

“No country has an excuse because each and every country has a government. And that’s what we’re asking for: take it to a higher level. This is not up to the ministers of health only.”

Tedros praised President Trump’s approach, noting his appointment of Vice President Mike Pence to lead a broad response to the crisis, and also Chinese President Xi Jinping’s leading from the front in the country where the outbreak began.

“After our visit to Beijing, and seeing China’s approach and President Xi leading that, and also in the U.S., President Trump himself, and also for regular coordination, designating the vice president – these are the approaches we are saying are the right ones.”

The whole government should be mobilized, he said, and the “whole government should mobilize the whole society.”

Those comments echoed remarks made by Pence on Wednesday, when he spoke of a “whole-of-government approach” developing into a “whole-of-America approach.”

“It’s not just a whole-of-government approach; it’s a whole-of-America approach,” he told reporters during a White House briefing by the coronavirus taskforce.

“And whether it be our nursing home industry, whether it be our airline industry, whether it be our commercial laboratories, I can speak on behalf of President Trump and our entire task force when I say we are profoundly grateful for the spirit that’s being reflected by companies all across the United States of America, grateful for the leadership at the state level,” Pence said.

“And the American people should be confident that that spirit of partnership is going to continue to drive this at every level as we work our way through dealing with the coronavirus in the United States.”

In a statement at the top of his briefing Thursday, Tedros referred to the need for every sector to be involved – “not just the health ministry – security, diplomacy, finance, commerce, transport, trade, information and more.”

“Educate your public, so that people know what the symptoms are and know how to protect themselves and others,” he urged governments. “Increase your testing capacity. Get your hospitals ready. Ensure essential supplies are available. Train your health workers to identify cases, provide careful and compassionate treatment, and protect themselves from infection.”

“If countries act aggressively to find, isolate and treat cases, and to trace every contact, they can change the trajectory of this epidemic,” Tedros said. “If we take the approach that there’s nothing we can do, that will quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It’s in our hands.”

As reported, the United States as of Thursday continues to have the smallest number of coronavirus cases – by a significant margin – in proportion to its national population. The per capita infection rate in the United States is 0.0000388 percent.

That is almost eight times smaller than the next highest per capita infection rate – Japan’s 0.0002526 percent.